The tall and stately elm outside my window is covered with snow today. It’s late January and winter has arrived in North Carolina. Schools are closed, as are most businesses, and the streets and lawns are swathed in a beautiful blanket of white. In the cozy comfort of my study, I sit by the fireplace and reflect. I remember the summer we first moved to this place. Across the yard, the elm tree was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with a kudzu vine. The broad-leaved kudzu was winning, choking the life out of the hapless tree. Looking down the creek, I saw other trees that had already succumbed. Their dead limbs had fallen and their trunks, still pointing to the sky, were covered with snaking vines. They were simply waiting for the next strong wind to topple them.