Today, I get to whack weeds, drag them from the ground, dig up and destroy their homes.
While I like the idea of planting seeds, any gardening I actually do is rooted in uprooting. Ten years ago, when I would come home to the late-lasting Pacific Northwest sun after a day of teaching and commuting and anxiety, I’d take a square-foot patch of my backyard under control and strip it of everything I thought it no longer needed.
That’s the thing about weeds: we have defined what we don’t want as weed, and we welcome the rest. Michael Pollan says grass has trained us to get other plants out of its way, and we have complied. From my perspective, grass is a pain in the lawn, and when I discovered last spring that moss had finally taken over more than half my back yard, I celebrated.
(Then Ramses of the hard claws and toilet habits took over the lawn for 6 months, and now I don’t know what it looks like out there. When he died I made sure to clear away all dog turds so I wouldn’t have to cry over finding a hard brown package.)
Last summer an unsigned letter was mailed to our house, cheerily if fascistically announcing that it was time for us to mow our lawn, yes, we can do it, with several checkmarks made by the author as if to suggest there had been a petition. I think I saw the author of this note come by the house; a stranger had knocked at the front door and since Ramses was accepting random visitors no more than I was, she went away without being able to lecture me to my face. However, I assume that whoever wrote the letter, unanswered visitor or not, still had a name at the time they mailed the letter.
A friend told me I should braid the lawn. I liked that idea. I also, honestly, liked the idea of somebody mowing the lawn, so I asked my son, and he did, and now, it needs it again. We are not well trained in this, but we do have green grass in front of our house right now, and a day of no rain promised.
And so I’ve geared up, literally, for my day of weed-battling. The invading Himalayan blackberries are going to join their late friends, the English ivies, on the fields of battle. I shall make trophies out of their skulls.
Actually, I think the deal is, you just cut them down and let them rot. I much prefer pulling up the taproots of weeds that weave wherever they will, but first things first.