Monday, June 2, 2014

A Perfect Day For A Weeding


I'm happy to hear, I write back to my sister Gwen, that you're enjoying your garden this spring. I hope to hear that from everyone.

            Personally, I have come to love weeding. It's a hands-on way to make a concrete improvement in my environment. I go away with a sense of accomplishment.
            I like being physically close to the ground, moving into the sun on cool days, staying in the shade on hot ones. I like smelling the earth and whatever's growing in it.
            Since you often stay in the same place for a period of time, more wildlife appears -- mostly bees and birds for me -- and your brain can pay more attention to subtle clues. You listen to the birds when you're out of doors doing something with your hands. It must be like weaving, crocheting, needlepoint -- things I have never done -- focusing one part of your mind on a task, leaving another piece of your mind to roam its own thoughts or take in its surroundings. A garden is a good 'surrounding.' That's what it's for.
            I find in this climate it's only warm enough for two or three months to do something slow and meditative, to take in the garden -- the home environment -- at this pace, a pace decided by other living things. Birds have reasons, and even routines, for darting about. For calling or singing. You become aware of them. If a bird happens to have a long song to sing, you're there to hear it. If the bees are busy, you find ways to meld your activities with theirs; you give each other some space, as needed, but don't cede the territory to them. It's yours as well.
            So the other day, almost warm enough to be performing this occupation in perfect comfort -- not quite, but a more beautiful day for being a little cool: that cool dry air creating a perfect light for admiring spring green and other colors -- I am removing a collection of intruders from a patch of groundcover thyme. The thyme (it makes tiny white flowers; a few of them; eventually) had captured this patch of earth fair and square some years ago. But other plants attacked it. I pulled out the intruders, a thick viney clover the original sinner, for several years before I accepted that you couldn't fight change forever and maybe you shouldn't. Making decisions now, deciding to allow some of the intruders to stay for aesthetic effect even though they will cause me more trouble in the future... I'm down on the ground where I smell the thyme. There's a comparatively gigantic echinacea (cone flower) in the middle of this patch, and I decide to leave the decision of whether to transplant it to some indefinite future. It's kind of interesting where it is right now, though probably bad for the thyme. I'm pulling out violets, clover, some clearly identifiable weeds, and a few nascent dandelions -- small, though big enough to take some thyme roots with them when you pry up their own.
            I want to stop time here. Time -- I play, as always, with the verbally inviting paradox: time, thyme -- is in charge here. Is thyme on my side? Not really; it's on its own side. Free will doesn't get to say how long I'll do this. External factors will decide. The weather will change; my legs will get stiff. The phone will ring. I'll remember what I'm supposed to be doing.
            But for a while I am back in the garden.