A Weed by any other Name...

Apr. 27, 2018

Today's blog isn't about Sailing.....mostly.

I've been spending a lot of time recently, weeding. The late freeze this year helped me get a jump on the nasty things because they were not thriving by the time it was nice enough for me to start pulling them..... and I kind of feel like I may be winning the war so far. Most years, I pull a ton of them in spring, and then when it gets hot they take over again because I don't want to pass out in the heat trying to kill them.

It's ironic that I am finally seeing way more grass than weeds. ..just before we move out of our house and slip away to sea. But I will feel proud to leave our friend and new tenant with a nice lawn. And I will have a sense of accomplishment that I have finally won this battle.

My mind always wanders away when I weed. It always goes to the same place and time. I go back to the year when my mom fought the same battle at our new home in Millsap, Texas. She spent so many hours out there, pulling weeds in the hot sun. I could usually find her out there any time she was not in the house, pulling away at those nasty weeds.

I think about all the times I would go out there to talk to her, usually to ask permission to do something or to let her know I was coming or going. I was in my freshman year of high school then. Quite often, she would ask me if I was going to stand there and talk, why didn't I help?

"Mom", I'd say, " I can't tell which things I am supposed to pull up!" 

"Whatever isn't grass is a weed", she would answer.

But it all looked green to me.

Inevitably, I would half heartedly yank something out of the ground. I TRULY did not know which things to pull! And at 15 years old, I'd have to say I had about as much interest in that activity as I had in cleaning the oven or listening to Liberace sing.

Inevitably, my reviews from my mother on my weed pulling talents were not very positive. "Why did you pull THAT?...  No, you have to get the roots and all!"

Sometimes, people would stop by and a few would ask her why she didnt just spray. Always, she would point to the street where the water ran off to eventually join the city's water reclamation system, and ask "Do you want your kids and animals drinking it?" She was adamantly opposed to chemicals, and the house was strewn with copies of "Organic Gardening". 

Sometimes, she created sprays out of various non toxic ingredients, but she always seemed to return to pulling the weeds out by hand. 

Sometimes, I brought her ice water, or her cigarettes, and stood out there and talked and she would share her weed philosophies. (And no, it was not lost on me how she worried about putting chemicals in the yard but inhaled poison into her lungs. I guess she just felt like she had a right to do that to herself, but no right to poison others. But I dont know, because we never talked about it. Maybe we should have. )

Weed philosophies:

If weeds are thriving, then grass isn't.

Weeds take all the nutrients and water out of the soil and suffocate the lawn.

See how, when you pull the weed out root and all, it aerates the soil ?And that's good for the lawn, too. 

She showed me how watering the bare spots made the grass "run" towards the moisture it was always seeking in the hot Texas sun, and she would measure the spots and show me her progress on getting the grass to fill it in. "Put a little water on the grass, she would say, but put a LOT on the bare spots, and watch what happens."

Watering, I could help with. Pulling weeds, I never imagined I would ever be any good at.

Somehow, she turned that weed filled lot into a beautiful lawn. I'm pretty sure I overheard her on many occassions  talking to it and encouraging it to become what it should be. It received many compliments in the years we lived there. And she was very proud of it.

I'm sure she didnt think I was listening... After all, my head was full of important things like if "that boy" was going to call me and if he " liked" me or, "liked liked" me.  And how we were ever going to use Algebra in real life. 

In later years, I wondered if the weed lessons were actually life lessons. Did she mean for me to weed out the negative people in my life so that they did not suck away all the nutrients and leave me to wither?   

Did she mean I should set goals to fill in the "bare spots" of my life by seeking my hopes and dreams, and measure my progress every day?

Was she showing me how hard work and preserverance could turn a "weed" filled life into a beautiful thriving "lawn"?

Most of all, did she mean to show me that where lots of water was, was the place to run to?

I like to think so.

Thanks, Mom.




Apr. 27, 2018
Apr. 27, 2018

"I learn more about God
From weeds than from roses;
Resilience springing
Through the smallest chink of hope
In the absolute of concrete....
~Phillip Pulfrey, "Weeds," Perspectives, www.originals.net

One is tempted to say that the most human plants, after all, are the weeds. ~John Burroughs, Pepacton, 1881

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878"