In Lake County Illinois, the soil tends to be heavily laden with clay, which goes from soggy-squishy to dry and powdery in a matter of days in early summer. A particularly troublesome area on the side of our otherwise wooded lot bakes in the sun most of the day, making it difficult to grow grass. The area drains downhill away from the house, which contributes further to burnout in this small area.
Several years ago, I decided to turn the entire problem into a gardening opportunity, making use of some 6x6 timbers to terrace the hill before planting a variety of sun-friendly plants. As I mentioned, we have lots of trees, and as a result, lots of shallow roots under the lawn. I quickly carved out the necessary spots for timbers, but had to bring out an axe to deal with a variety of criss-crossing roots that prevented me from finishing the job.
I made quick work of the dirt-encrusted woody underground branches. It was a beautiful day, and I heard music coming from the living room a few yards away. My daughter was watching one of her assortment of television shows. The dog barked at a passing jogger on the street behind me.
I worked like a machine. Thwack. Chop. Pull the root and toss it aside on a growing pile. Over and over, with only a few roots remaining, I repeated the strenuous hurtling downward motion, aiming and cleaving first air, then dirt and wood.
There comes a brief moment in your mind when a realization takes shape. It is a spark of a thought that lags just behind the momentum of your muscles and the physics of an object in motion. The root I was about to sever was strangely uniform in shape, despite the clinging mud that obscured the majority of it’s unusually smooth circumference. Thwack.
“DAD!” I heard my daughter yell from inside the house, “WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TV?!”
Obviously, I had removed not only an assortment of roots from the new garden patch, but severed the coaxial cable that provides our house with internet access and …cable TV. I spent the next couple of hours crudely splicing the “root” back together until our cable provider could come out several days later. And clearly, I would be more careful next time.