Down to the Roots
Brian Richard is a former instructor at the Tracker School
What tools should we use for caretaking? Stone
tools, a knife, clippers, mules, tractor, scythe, weed-eater, handsaw, chainsaw, bare
hands, or fire. Well, it seems that each tool has its place and value. Ive seen
where a chainsaw worked best for thick rose bushes (but dangerous). Obviously some tools
make tea time out of much work. But let me tell you its easy to get carried away and
make mistakes. Sometimes its good to just stop and reconnect, and stay connected.
Power tools are fast and great but there is something about the closeness and
connectedness of hand tools, or even your bare hands.
Around my cabin, here in South Carolina, I deal a lot with taking out
invasive privet, Japanese Honeysuckle, wild plums and blackberries. A coarse cutting
handsaw (Stanley Shark toolbox size) works best for cutting branches, shrubs, and
small trees. I also found that a weed-eater with a 3-winged sharpened blade works great for
honeysuckle, blackberries and other shrubs.
A big problem with cutting stuff out is that it grows back with what
are known as "coppice shoots". The solution to this problem is simple. Pull the
whole plant out of the ground, roots and all. Then knock the dirt off the roots and lay it
on the ground with the roots up to expose them to the sun and air to dry them out. This is
a sure enough way to get rid of the plant for good. A little barbaric, but effective!
I would like to recommend a great book for all you caretakers and
nature lovers in the eastern half of Turtle Island. Its Petersons Ecology of
Eastern Forests (#37 in the Petersons Field Guide series). Its a great book
for learning the interaction between plants, insects, animals, area communities, and a
whole lot more. Its a must for understanding a lot of the mysteries of our forest.
Remember that its important to learn as much physical knowledge
as possible. It helps greatly with the spiritual stuff too. Teaching it to others helps to
solidify the knowledge in your brain. Studying the physical aspect also helps us out on
those down days, when the spiritual realm seems distant. Im glad that I can fall
back on my physical skills.
Keep your feet in the dirt and let your spirit soar.