My Ivy League Summer
This past summer I waged a war against creeping, crawling Boston ivy. Boston ivy is a despicable vine with criss-crossing tentacles that attach themselves with five grasping suction-tipped fingers to anything that doesn’t move. It is the stuff of nightmares, the vine you might find clinging to Dracula’s castle. Oh, sure, from a distance the ivy-clad castle looks inviting, sheathed in leafy green. But up close those sticky tendrils will reach out to wrap you within their dark folds and hold you until the vampire arrives. And not the good-looking vampire.
I must add that many people like Boston ivy. It crawls over the illustrious walls and buildings of Ivy League schools and ballparks. It is said to keep a building cooler. But my Italian father, who really knew his concrete, once told me ivy would suck the moisture from mortar and cause a wall to crumble. And let’s face it — have you ever seen ivy crawling over the ancient Roman Coliseum? That’s all I needed to know. The ivy had to go.
The wall around my condo was rife with the dreadful water-sucker, and while I couldn’t convince the condo association to remove it from the side that faces the street, I could pry its stiff little fingers from the wall facing my patio. This was no easy feat. Those woody stalks clung tenaciously, and when finally ripped away, left behind sticky scars. All summer, the ivy on the other side of the wall sent up tiny scouts, innocent-looking red-yellow sprouts peering hopefully into my yard. I wasn’t fooled. They were unceremoniously decapitated. Somewhere in another universe, on a planet where Boston ivy reigns as the dominant species, a Wanted poster with my face is hanging in a galactic post office.
Once the ivy was under control, I planted tomatoes and herbs in my wee backyard. Following are some of the recipes I concocted from that beloved garden.