Thoreau could have died here, a T. Rex victim

I am not a horticulturalist, an agriculturalist, a farmer, or even an outdoorsperson. 

I’m not a gardener. 

I love those people, but I ain’t one.

I consider the outdoors something to look at through a glass window or a very, very tight screen, something so tight that even midges can’t get through. 

I am fiercely allergic to midge bites, and my wife has battled Lyme disease thanks to ticks, so if something needs to be accomplished out in the meadow behind my house, I hire the neighbor boy. To him, I’m a hero, a capitalist mentor.

There’s a reason human beings originally gravitated to caves, and then started building primitive dwellings, and then invented doors. It’s because humans are not intended to be outside.

We’re an indoor species. 

My idea of “roughing it” is stepping down to a three-star hotel. 

And believe me, that’s roughing it. No Keurig in the room? Barbaric.

But in spite of my antipathy for the supposedly “great outdoors,” I can bring you with great confidence this word of outdoorsy advice: 

If you want to hide something behind vegetation, and you need something to grow relatively fast, honey locust may be your solution. 

Yes, a tree. A honey locust tree.

I don’t mean you can rob the bank in downtown Ipswich and run home to your place on Little Neck and plant a honey locust tree; you have to plan further ahead. But if you want to sequester over the long haul, thinking in decades instead of minutes, honey locust may be your seclusion salvation.

I understand that Wikipedia calls the honey locust an “aggressive, invasive species.” Sorry. The practical reality is, Gleditsia triacanthos is wondrous. Sue me.

When we first moved to Ipswich, we had a lone honey locust tree in our front yard. Our house was almost 200 years old at the time, and that tall, glorious honey locust was an estimated 100 or so. But when we decided to put solar panels on the front roof of our house — a move that would allow the sun to power our entire household, including both of our cars — there was only one painful sacrifice to be made.

The beautiful century-old honey locust tree in the middle of the front yard was blocking the sunlight that we would need on our roof.

I told myself that the honey locust was approaching the end of its life, so it would have to come down soon in any event. But I wept anyway, as the tree guys power-sawed it.

We left the stump in the front yard, a stubborn monument to the beautiful being we had sacrificed.

Then, the miracle. 

The stump and its roots began producing shoots. 

That first year, seven shoots came up. 

Then, year by year, more new shoots than I could count. New trees!

The honey locust is not your cliché tree. You don’t have big spread-your-fingers leaves like a maple. You don’t get creepy Morticia-Addams-pointy leaves like a pin oak. The honey locust has a zillion tiny leaves, collected in miniature fronds, like a Jurassic Park fern that went berserk.

So you don’t expect shade from a honey locust. Little leaves, little shade; right?

Uh, no.

Today, a few summers later, I can’t see out my front-room windows. They’re completely obscured by a stand of innumerable honey locust trees, all rising up and rejoicing in the muggy July sunshine of another interminable Ipswich summer.

It’s a jungle out there.

If they ultimately surround my house, I hope someone will hack their way in here and save me.

“Honey locust.” Such a conflicted name. Honey is sweet. Locusts are awful.

Beware.

But I’m looking out my living room window at Linebrook Road, and I’m tellin’ ya, if you’re gonna need a hideout a few years from now, plant honey locust trees today.

Because from where I’m sitting, I can’t see a dang thing.


(Doug Brendel lives behind an impermeable stand of dinosaur-era flora on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Follow him, if he survives, at DougBrendel.com.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s