Saturday, June 2, 2007
Feeling Sorry For Weeds
A lot of weeds are pretty and I feel bad killing them. I’m like that guy on the commercial who is standing outside in the rain, crying over the broken lamp he threw in the garbage. He’s not crying because the lamp cost a lot of money or it belonged to someone else and he’s in trouble because he broke it. He’s crying because he feels sorry for it. That’s me. I feel sorry for everything. Even inanimate objects like pillows that don’t match my décor any more or t-shirts with stains on the front. That’s why I collect plastic containers. I don’t need another one. My cabinet is overflowing with them. They tumble out when you open the door and bounce on the floor and the lids roll under the stove. But I can’t bear to throw them away because I feel bad. As if these things had feelings.
Sometimes I’ll have a garage sale to unload all the junk I feel sorry for. I don’t feel guilty if I can find it a good home. But I can’t do that with the weeds. No one wants them. I stand there spraying the Round Up or I crouch down and pull them out, trying to get all the roots. I feel like a murderer. I feel even worse when the weed is a flower. It doesn’t make sense. I’m buying flowers and planting them everywhere and yet I am decapitating dandelions, buttercups and other little flowers I can’t identify just because they grow wild.
Sometimes I am not even sure that it’s a weed I am killing. Sometimes I am afraid it’s a planted thing the woman who owned this house before me put in and I am yanking it out by mistake. I ran over a ton of flowers with the lawnmower at my old house, not knowing what I was cutting. One year I realized that there weren’t any flowers anymore. Nothing was coming up. I killed them all. Serves me right for being so mean to the weeds.
Some of the flowers I can identify and so I feel confident about not killing them. Roses are easy. Everyone knows what a rose looks like. And tulips. But I’ve killed mums, hens-and-chicks and spiny-looking things that I still don’t know what they were. Sometimes I do the opposite and I inadvertently let the weeds grow because I think they’re flowers. There I am on my hands and knees, weeding the weeds.
Forget pruning. I once destroyed an old holly that towered to my second floor. Just trying to neaten it up. It never recovered. Then there was the raspberry bush that I ran over with my truck but that doesn’t count. It was in my blind spot. I’ve over-watered geraniums, stepped on crocuses and caused a whole bed of tiger lilies to go into shock when I tried to transplant them. And I felt terrible about it.
These things are so delicate and fragile. One wrong move and you’ll find yourself flowerless. Right now my petunias are looking a little green around the gills and I’m panicking, ready to get out the Gardening for Dummies book. But the weeds are the bullies of the yard. They run amok and choke everything in sight. If you don’t get them under control, they’ll climb up the porch steps, knock the shutters off the windows and pry the doors off the hinges to try to get in. But I still feel sorry for them. They get a bad rap. I mean, wouldn’t you become a hoodlum if you were getting picked on? If it was the only club that would have you?
Therefore, I’m considering leaving the weeds. I know it’s unorthodox and Kurt will probably resist being that he has a mean streak regarding inanimate objects and certain live things such as molds, termites and poisonous snakes. But maybe I can get away with it. I can pretend I’m one of those hippies with a wildflower yard. I can get Kurt to put in a rickety old picket fence, throw in some pottery and birdhouses painted in crazy colors and cobblestone paths lined with broken dinner plates with roses on them. Then I’ll just watch it all bloom in a waist-high tangle from my spot at the French bistro table where I will be painting still lifes with my new oil paints.
Ah, who am I kidding? I’m an anal obsessive-compulsive neat freak who is addicted to the weed-whacker. I’m not letting no weeds run amok in my yard! Plus, we’re in that competition with the neighbors and so far I think we’ve got them running scared. Pearl stopped me when I was getting my mail the other morning and said, “Y’all were going to town here yesterday.”
“Ah huh,” I nodded proudly. (We’d spent the weekend doing yard work.)
“I told Eldon, ‘you better get out the bush hog—the Van Cleaves are showin’ us up!”
Ah hah! Just as I suspected, Eldon and Pearl were getting nervous. All our hard work was coming to fruition and the locals were just now finding out that we city slickers, who don’t know a baler from a hole in the wall, are still a force to be reckoned with.
“Aw, we can’t keep up with your yard,” I said, being polite. “And by the way, what do I use to get rid of that chickweed that’s crawling up my foundation?”