I noticed the first vine poking up from the back of the yard the first year we rented the house. It seemed to emerge from an apparently dead trunk, gnarled and bleached. Then a single cane unfurled and in slow motion climbed the back fence and snaked along it to the corner post, then soared up into the thickets of ivy-shrouded plum trees in the next yard, to drape from the upper branches in late summer. By last October the vine had woven a dark green curtain along the wire cyclone fence and colonized the massive old lemon tree where its soft leathery leaves mingled with the tree's stiff glossy canopy. When I tried to prune the vines back I found them still firmly attached to fence and tree, even after cutting through the shredding red bark with my clippers. The curlicue appendages sticking out from each cane were tightly wrapped around fence wires and leaf stems, anything nearby which the once-green tendrils could grasp. I began to unwind the woody but pliable corkscrews one by one, like trying to unpry an infant's fingers from a pencil it has grasped, instinctively.