Out of Control

One way of defining a monster is: “a form of life that is out of our control.” Grendel, Grandel’s mother, and the dragon were beyond any normal human ability to control.

I mention this because I spent time today wrestling with kiwi vines. Kiwi vines? In Connecticut? Right. Many mail-order nurseries offer a hardy kiwi that can be grown in cold climates. The fruit is much smaller than the kiwis you see in the stores, and smooth skinned. You can eat them like grapes. They come from northern China, not New Zealand. The mail order catalogues wax rhapsodic about them: “a mature vine will produce up to 6000 pounds of fruit.”

That is not a typo. And yes, 6000 pounds is three tons.

But notice that qualification: “a mature vine.” The difficulty is that no one has ever seen a mature vine. A mature hardy kiwi vine would probably encompass 20 or 30 acres. My vine grows on a chain link fence and stretches out several feet on each side and six or eight feet above the fence as well. It was weighing the fence down until I decided enough was enough and spent the better part of two days pruning it back. I did it again last fall, but lately I’ve been unable to walk past it without ducking. It stretches out to grab whatever comes within reach and it has a way of twining two or three branches together so that it can reach straight out 6, 8, or 10 feet. Given opportunity, who knows how far it might grow?

A friend of mine bought a vine the same year I did and found it was taking over the wall of his house. He tried to cut it back but gave up because it seemed to be weeping. Each cut does bleed profusely. A year or two later he rented the house out and moved. You have to be hard-hearted to deal with the kiwi. It will not play on your sympathies but will not take pity on you.

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