Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Resiliency of Weeds

We built a new house on a corner parcel of land. In the process of digging out a basement and due to all the people working on the building, the grass was covered up or destroyed. I took advantage of that fact to create a yard that was all garden and no lawn. Over the last three years I have added many plants and shrubs and ground covers, along with trees, fruits and vegetables. But in addition to all that I have chosen and planted on my own, many plants have arrived via wind-born seed or bird droppings. The result is that I have many weeds living among the cultivated plants.

In some cases I just let the weeds grow along side whatever I have chosen, so you will see a 6-foot mullein plant near my rose bushes, or yarrow popping up here there and everywhere. The clover and buttercup are so abundant, however, they threaten to completely cover up my lovely blue-star creeper, the ground cover I have chosen for its tiny magical star-shaped flowers that cover it from May through September. So out I go into the fray, starting in April and continuing into May and June, tearing out the clover and the buttercup and the crab grass and the dandelions in order to let the very forgiving blue star creeper and vinca and knick knick a chance to grow and thrive.

My husband laughs at my determination. "It's a losing battle," he says. And he is right. Along about July my enthusiasm for weeding starts to lag. By August I am postively weeded out. All my beliefs about weeding being good therapy, about how meditative and healing it is to get my hands in the dirt wanes. Instead I look out at the chaos that is my yard and have an intense urge to lie down in the hammock and read a book.

The trick is not to look too closely. People walk by and, when they see me in my yard, tell me, "I just love your garden! It makes my heart glad to look at it." These words would inspire me to longer weeding sessions in the early summer. Now I just look up from my book and say, "Thanks".

So the losing battle has been lost. The weeds knew it all along. They have let me come through and tear some of them up, knowing quite well that sooner or later I'd get tired. Each time I came through they bowed to my weeding will and started growing again as soon as I passed by. Their resiliency and ability to forgive my weeding ways was and is boundless.

I never feel so accepted for who I am as when I am weeding in my garden. "Come and play in the dirt," the plants seem to say to me. "We will let you pick who stays and who goes for just this little while. Then we will come back where we will and live in harmony, rose and mugwort, dandelion and hydrangea, fuchsia and buttercup."

We can all learn from the resiliency of weeds. They grow where they can. They allow us to pluck them from the soil. And then they grow again. And again. No judgement. No blame. Perserverence furthers.