Wrestling Bamboo

Foolishly perhaps, nine years ago Jeff and I decided to plant bamboo along the west side of our house that faces the windows of a triplex next door, at most 10 feet away. The precious little things grew quickly and screened beautifully.

Photowith dogs.png

Now however?


And in back?


For perspective these are about ten feet higher than the house.

Every spring, Jeff and I counter the spring Tet Offensive . For two or three months we have to go out with a spade and chop the shoots that grow up on the triplex side of the fence and that strike out across our front yard. Every day. If we don’t the stalks will be knee-high at least and sometimes taller than my head.

In the past week or so I have launched a new counter-insurgency. I have tried to penetrate the south flank, going into the stand and with a lopper, cutting off the stalks that are shoving up against the underside of the roof overhang. After an hour or so, I had penetrated maybe two feet into the tight space between the porch and the fence.

Yesterday, I attacked from the north, taking a step stool, the loppers, hand clippers and a wooden walking cane. Standing on the stool at a place where a fence spans the gap between the house and the barrier fence, I grabbed stalks with the cane, pulled them toward me, struggled with hands and legs to hold the stalk steady while opening the loppers and closing them. In most cases, I had to then take the hand trimmers and cut through the last slippery, juicy bits of the stalks.

After a few hours I’d managed to clear part of the kitchen window.

I’m a bit obsessed this year. I am now about to go out to the space behind the triplex with a step-ladder and attack from the west.

If you don’t hear from me …. the bamboo has won.


  1. A Dark Reckoning, J.R. Rasmussen
  2. The Genius of Birds, Jennifer Ackerman
  3. An Unseen Light, Goudsouzian & McKinney eds
  4. News of the World, Pauline Jiles
  5. Chemistry, Weike Wang
  6. The Woman’s Hour, Elaine Weiss
  7. Wild Things, Bruce Handy
  8. The Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman
  9. With One Shot, Dorothy Marcic
  10. The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin
  11. The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin
  12. Nobody’s Fool, Richard Russo


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