Ivy

ivy


Providence is full of ivy. Brown University is Ivy League, after all, and there’s English ivy (Hedera helix) growing all over the place. A friend of mine, freshly arrived in Providence from Montana, plucked some ivy leaves off the wall and mailed them to her family and friends in Billings, to underline the reality of where she was.

Ivy wants to go up, away from the ground, against gravity. There’s a nearby building with two ivy tendrils curling up its walls like arms outspread. And up up up they go!

I always think of my mother when I see ivy. When my father built our new house in the early 1960s, my mother decided that she liked ivy, and planted shoots of it all along the north side of the house and along the roadside.

Those shoots were stubborn. They didn’t die, but they didn’t grow. A few leaves stuck out of the ground, year after year. And then, after five years or so –

They exploded.

The entire north side of the house was engulfed with ivy. And do you know what ivy does to the side of a house, especially one with wooden shingles? It chews it up, om nom nom. If you try to pull the ivy down, you rip away half of the wooden shingles at the same time, and you reveal the dark mottling that the ivy has produced on its way up the wall.

Mom got her wish, and how! But she wasn’t happy that her plan had gone beyond expectations. She managed to get most of it off the shingles, and she repainted, but she couldn’t get the ivy off the brickwork. This picture, taken in May 1971, shows the ivy covering the exposed brickwork:

 

Moms house

It looks nice, doesn’t it? Nice rhododendrons in front of the house, and a nice ivy-covered chimney.

But Mom was watching that ivy every moment, to make sure it didn’t leap onto the wooden shingles again.

Ivy is aggressive.

And now, a song:


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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

5 Responses to Ivy

  1. I am so afraid that if I click on the song, “little lambsiedivy, a kiddliedivy too, wouldn’t you” with be stuck in my head for days!

  2. Debbi McNiven says:

    English ivy is classified a noxious weed in Oregon (and probably Washington). It’s strangling the trees in Forest Park and a group called the No-Ivy League that is trying to eradicate it. Now you can’t buy any type of ivy in any reputable nursery in the state.

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