Light & Air

When I was a kid, we made a yearly trip from Illinois to Alabama to visit my grandparents and other extended family members. And every year we took that trip, at some point, we would marvel over the ability of kudzu to cover… whatever it wanted to cover. Now, if you've no experience with kudzu, let me tell you a bit about it.

Native to Asia, kudzu was introduced in the United States at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. These days it grows (and grows) through most of the southeastern United States, and the thing is: It's a powerful invasive, growing fast and sending its roots deep, outcompeting other plants for light and air until the other plants are no more. If you use Google to image-search the phrase, "kudzu conquers the world," you'll see.

Now, happily, I currently live too far north for kudzu to be a problem (though given climate change and the slow progress northward of things that used to only live southward, who knows how long it'll be before kudzu makes its way here). However, this past weekend, I engaged in my own annual war on the landscape, wherein I attempt to deny light and air to the things I wish would go away, while encouraging the things I want to grow. And at my house, that means (cue horror-film music): tackling the Virginia creeper.

Just as people once planted kudzu on purpose, they continue to plant Virginia creeper on purpose, for some reason. Someone who owned my house previously thought it would be a good idea to plant it there. And so, every year, I find myself engaged in an epic battle, ripping it from the ground, tearing off its leaves, trying to keep it from succeeding in its mission, which is to use my house as the headquarters from which it will launch its invasion and eventually take over the world. The best I can say of it is this: At least it's not kudzu.

Aside from poisoning it (something I refuse to do, given the number of things we eat that grow in the yard), the only thing I can figure to do is to just keep at it. Pulling it up, pulling it off the house, pulling its leaves off, and so on and on. And, if you can get ahead of it, the light and air are available to the things you want to grow, and they can win. But only if you keep at it. Constantly.

What's the point of all this? Simply this: It occurs to me that growing what one wants to grow, whether that means a garden full of tasty vegetables, an attractive landscape, a happy-making career, a program of recreational options that satisfies, requires the same sort of constant vigilance. All that good stuff we want to grow—it needs our attention. It needs light and air. And sometimes, that means weeding (and weeding, and weeding) out the negative.

This month, we feature our annual Salary Survey, and I'm happy to report that the vast majority of readers are happy in their work, and seeing that work pay off, in terms of increasing salaries, experience and career growth. And that means that most of you have gotten this part of it right. Feeding your careers and your patrons with what's needed to keep moving forward. Kudos to you! And don't forget to keep weeding out the bad stuff!


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]