Thursday, August 19, 2010

8.16 Busy Thoughts


Mostly, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing.
It’s just being there. And some busyness of the hands frees the mind.
I sit on the brick pavement and pick weeds out of our “steppable” groundcover.
It will not survive without me, not indefinitely. The weeds make their ceaseless inroads. They are stronger, wilder, more native, less needy. They survive on nothing. Grow on dust or sand, between rocks and bricks, the slightest gaps. They push their way up, stem, leaf, the occasional flower, the inevitable seed – next year’s expansion policy.
Violets find some millimeter of dirt between the roots and stems of our various species of thyme groundcovers. They mar the esthetic uniformity, driving particular gardeners wild. I can stand a few of them. I am no totalitarian prince. But the more allowed, the more appear, breeding on their own success – well, what can you expect of these people? One violet this week means a half dozen next week, or two weeks at the outside, but surely they will come.
Not just violets, of course. Clover. Clover I like because, as I have read, it is good for the soil. But our clover, with its purple-tinged leaves and tiny bright yellow flowers – what variety this is I don’t know – will soon overrun the acaena, the steppable (Microsoft insists this must be “stoppable,” but no, it means you can step on it) groundcover with the overtly ruby-purple foliage, which I have babied through the years. And which is fading as it is.
And then come the Labrador violets, those lovers of winter, pushing in from the side. They multiply faster than I can remember how many used to be there, and before I can determine a clear immigration policy for Labrador intruders they have colonized Arizona. The acaena originate from New Zealand, I am told, and appear to want to go back there.
Perhaps I should allow only native species to flourish. Then we will have only local variety violets, clover, crabgrass, dandelions, and the familiar-to-the-eye but nameless-to-the-mind host of local tenants who were here before I was, fighting their own survivalist wars beneath a knee-high forest of coarse and mostly ugly – there is no other term for them – weeds.
These are the things, or some of the things, one thinks about, sitting, or squatting, on the brick pavements between the planting beds – the clock circle, the flower island, the tree circle, the “graves,” the “back forty” – and pulling out weeds. Deciding, that is, often on the fly, which green creatures before me truly are the intruders.
Things generally look a little better when I am done, so there is a sense of accomplishment.
But mostly it is spending time with the plants that shapes these hours, or minutes. There are words – therapy, meditation, centering, slowing down, getting out of the house – that may apply.
The garden you are really working on is with you always.