Like Bamboo Growing in Coastal South Carolina

This past weekend Gordon went in with a chain saw to do battle with a thick stand of bamboo at our beach house on Hilton Head, S.C. Let me begin with a disclaimer that we weren’t the ones foolish enough to plant this nuisance. Blame that on a former owner.

Sure, it’s pretty green stuff and gives a tropical get-away feel to the back yard. But it grows like crazy in the long growing season in the maritime forest ecosystem on Southern sea islands.

We don’t mind it when it stays about 15 feet tall. But a few renegade stalks always decide to shoot for the stars. Why not 20 feet? Why not 30? They get tangled up in the oak trees and get unstable and then flop over into our pool. And then there’s the thicket issue. A raccoon once died in there, probably trying to find his way out. We didn’t know it until the smell got really compelling. And then there’s the whole invasive issue. Bamboo puts out wandering shoots capable of taking over the whole yard. I’ve read that the only way to keep it contained is to bury a deep cement wall all around it underground.

So this weekend I stood on the back deck while Gordon ventured into our private jungle and started shaking stalks to identify which ones were the towering, pool-flopping ones. When he shook the right ones, I yelled and he marked the stalks with duct tape. (Make a note if you’re a guy collecting ideas on how to use duct tape.) Then Gordon revved his chain saw and cut the stalks. But they didn’t fall. Nope. Too tightly packed in the thicket. We had to pull and yank like the dickens to untangle the cut stalks and get them out.

Some of the stalks were as big around as my arm. We went to work clipping off the foliage. I started thinking that Robinson Crusoe could have made a good raft out of that big fat bamboo. Suddenly the bamboo didn’t look like such a nuisance after all. You could probably make something out of it, at the very least tomato stakes to use back home in Atlanta. So we laid a stack of long, green bamboo poles in the woods to dry out.

Gordon found a use for one pole right away. Earlier he had bumped his head on a low hanging oak branch he didn’t want to cut. So he took one of the fattest bamboo poles, drove a short pipe into the sand, stuck the bamboo hollow center over the pipe and propped the pole under the branch. He then drilled a hole through the top of bamboo and fed a wire through to attach it to the branch. Presto! Low hanging branch solved.

Today when people talk about “going green” bamboo is a true media darling. They call it a renewable resource because it grows so fast. You find it stubbornly creeping its way into flooring, into bed sheets and even into clothes.

So I’ve changed my mind about bamboo. In fact, if Jesus was around bamboo, he probably might have said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a stand of bamboo. It grows tenaciously and abundantly and soon the whole earth is covered with it.” Renewable. Inexhaustible. Growing. The perfect “green” words to pray for the kind of evergreen spiritual life I want to live.

Our private back yard jungle

Our private back yard jungle

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