How I Lost A Hobblebush or Knowing Where You Are
If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.
E. O. Wilson
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a Hobblebush on the side of the Bog Road on the back end of my town. I have lived here over thirty years and mostly I am used to seeing old washing machines and tv sets tossed along the edges of the local woods. Eventually over the years I let the woods go by in a blur on my way to the bog. But it turns out the woods changed over time as woods tend to do. I just hadn’t noticed. The remains of the same very ancient tube tv are still there in the same ditch but nature has all but engulfed it.
One day on our way back from our regular visits to the bog to see what we could see, I single outstanding shrub in full bloom. Wham. I yelled out to my unsuspecting husband — STOP. And then — BACK UP. As I leapt out of the car — I hear a grumbling sigh behind me but I was on a mission, camera in hand. It was indeed a Hobblebush .
I am in love with what I find on the edges, the transition zones, the ecotones. I even remember how long ago I spotted the old tv in the roadside ditch. Just recently my husband, while mowing, spotted a patch of Jack In The Pulpit hidden under an old battered Spruce. When he told me I did not believe him. That Spruce had gotten strangled by porcelainberry. I was responsible for the invasion. I had planted the pretty exotic Southern vine thinking it would die back hard and never spread. And yet it still persists on the edges of the yard. Once we cut out the pernicious invader from the underbelly of the old Spruce, Several years later a fairly generous patch of Jack In The Pulpit has appeared. My new take on gardening is not gardening but rather watching. i.e. pull out the bad mistakes and see what happens. Well —Jack In The Pulpit happened.
Back to the Hobblebush – I was so excited to spot it. A couple of days after the first sighting we went back to nail down the location. On first sweep I could not spot it. Then Bill created a plan. I checked the photos for time stamp and calculated the spot was about 3 minutes going 20 miles an hour from the edge of the bog where I had been photographing a basking turtle. No hobblebush. We changed our speed. We changed our route. The bush was not to be found. It had vanished.
By now, two weeks later, the blooms are long gone and if that bush is there, it has now blended back into the surrounding woods. I am still perplexed and a little sad. After years of seeing only abandoned refrigerators and deer carcasses — finally a beautiful Hobblebush, and now it is gone. But — from now on I will look at these woods with renewed interest and respect. I want to be paying attention to spot the next undervalued native beauty.