The Weeds and Me

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

For years I kept an essay under the glass on my desk, along with the cartoons, photos and business cards collected over a decade. The essay extolled the virtues of weeding beyond its necessity. The writer grew poetic explaining how pulling weeds gives a sense of accomplishment and how the routine motions, much like a meditation, can bring on a feeling of peace.

Sitting at my desk, it was easy to agree with the essayist. Two decades later, after a day spent weeding, I think it’s malarkey. Tonight, as every working bone and muscle in my body seeks mercy, I know weed pulling is futile. Like brushing your teeth, it’s got to be done, but it never gets done. Today I filled the third garbage can of the week with weeds – and no, the garden doesn’t look seedy – and it dawned on me that the lovely lady who wrote that essay obviously doesn’t live south of Memphis and east of the Mississippi. She wouldn’t believe that a hurricane’s aftermath includes weed seeds that sprout where they’ve never been before. Or that a single sprig of an unwanted plant deep in the rootball of a new shrub can sprout into a patch of mess overnight.

No smart tip on weeding here, just an exhortation to do it. Not only do weeds defy the look of a garden bed, they compete with your desirable plants for sunlight, water and nutrients. Weeds harbor insects and other pests, too, if you need another reason to get after them. The good news is that you do feel a sense of accomplishment and control, however brief, when you finish weeding a bed. Take a hot shower and tell your sore body that it’s “use it or lose it” and keep moving. There’s more weeds to pull tomorrow.

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