Running into a Brick Wall

August 30, 2018

 

Question: If you owned a brick wall, would you rather it look like this?

IMG_0646-2.jpg

Or this?

IMG_0648.jpg

If you picked the first image, we need to talk.

Here’s what happened.  Thirtyish years ago, having recently moved to our house, I decided to remove the heinous firethorn shrub espaliered to the front wall of the garage.  With the Thorny One gone, the wall was blank.  Back in that day, I had a problem with blankness.  I conceived a great idea —  to plant fig ivy.  Which promptly surged up the wall, covering it with luxurious green. The ivy was delightful in every aspect for, oh, a few years.  But then the trouble began.  Lovely it may be, but fig ivy is invasive.  Once it fills a wall it demands constant trimming around the edges, lest it ruin the surrounding paint. Over the years it burgeons in depth and trunk size, eventually becoming less of a demure flat screen and more of a bulging ponderous heaviness, a haven for wasps and annoying house sparrows.

 

This winter we had a serious cold snap. The normally all-weather ivy turned into a brown, crispy mat.  I trimmed out the dead but what remained did not look promising. In fact, it looked hideous. So one day I went out and pulled the whole thing down, hacked it off at the ground.  Which left…the roots. I had to pay for several hour$$$ of root-removal. We’re talking just short of jackhammers.

 

Blankness as relief — my how times change. But now the easy to ignore brown rootlets still clinging like superglue have turned into a thick tracery of ghostly white, as shown above.  I am tired of looking at ghostly white, which I take to be the last hurrah of the ivy, as in, you think you got rid of me, eh?

 

Wire brush doesn’t work.  Pressure washing doesn’t work. This morning I went to the wall with a cake-icing spatula, and lo, one clean brick, in nothing flat!  This is much more fun than other things I should be doing! I decided to measure the task ahead of me.  Thirty rows of 15 bricks. 450 bricks.  The morning was cool and the process strangely meditative — within one hour I had gouged and scraped clean 22 bricks at the west end of the wall.  Plus 2 bonus bricks at the east end, which I will thank myself for when I get down there.

 

Whilst gouging and scraping, I had an idea:  People could sign up to remove the remaining rootlets.  I could charge a modest amount per brick. The proceeds could go to, oh, some worthy cause or other.  Haven’t worked that out yet.

 

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