I’ve been looking at them—and looking for them—all summer long, aiming to pull, or whack with the string trimmer, or spritz with an acidic shower of vinegar, or pry up with a shovel.
And even when I’m not approaching weeds with murderous intent, I’m thinking I should be doing so, lest they set seed and replicate themselves, sprouting in greater numbers next summer to consume yet more of my time and energy.
If you were to encounter me on a roadside hereabouts in July or August, you would likely wonder at my sweaty single-mindedness. I can only explain my summer season intensity by noting that weedy seed set feels to me like a deadline, looming over my life with the potential for devastating effects if missed.
The weeds are many, though, and for the second year in a row quite well-watered. In an effort to keep my self-imposed task from overwhelming me completely, I recently started carving out moments to pull back for intervals of appreciation.
The definition of a weed is a plant that’s growing where it’s not wanted. I most vehemently do not want these plants on my home ground, but I recognize that this judgment rests on subjective criteria. This factor of personal skew puts the adjudication of weediness on a par with determinations of beauty.
And so, while the bindweed might smother native plants, and the pennycress hogs water that could be going to the wildflowers and grasses that sustain the local fauna, and the cheatgrass poses a fire hazard, I’m forced to concede that these plants are also marvelously intricate in their functioning and, occasionally at least, beautiful.
And so, I’ve allowed my mind to stray toward grudging admiration at times. I’ve stopped to smell the Canada thistle and to appreciate the soft-serve swirl pattern evident in the bindweed’s bloom.
And then I keep pulling, or whacking or spraying or digging.