Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pulling up the weeds

There's just something so deeply rewarding and richly symbolic about pulling up weeds. As I was working in my garden this afternoon, the thought occurred to me that the work I was doing with my hands had more real-life applications than I'd ever before dared notice. Amazing how getting lost in a physical action so rote, routine, and familiar can take your mind to somewhere completely new that draws you to such profound conclusions. There's an art to slowly pulling up those little plants that grow against all odds, disrupting the perfectness of a well-organized garden variety. The gentle tug and lift of some; the necessary act of digging and roughly pulling with others. So, too, exist the tugs and pulls of life.

Musings on Weeds

If you don't get rid of problems fully and opportunistically, they'll come back over and over until you're forced to deal with them head-on. Removal of weeds from a garden bed requires care and attention. You want to get rid of the whole plant. If you pull too hard, you'll have a handful of greenery, and you may not even see a visible weed remaining in the ground. But, carelessly leave the roots behind, and you'll inadvertently re-establish the cycle of pesky growth--just like problems and problem-people (like those toxic, negative people that you eventually have to truly unfriend) in your life.

When you spend time trudging through the weeds, you notice things you never would have noticed otherwise. Life's not all sunshine and rainbows. There are bad times. There are things you won't want to do or surround yourself with. But when you accept it and rest there...just be there in those less-than-ideal places, you'll still find beauty. Like the dozens of itty bitty buds on my vegetable vines that will be zucchini and squash in the coming weeks. Like the pinky-gray-brown earthworms that live under the earth, silently nurturing my plants' roots. Like the teeny tiny purpley-green clover that so delicately hide among the leaves of other plants. A bird's feather resting gently against a stem. A stone so perfectly round and smooth. Had I spent 2 hours even sitting still in nature on my bum, I wouldn't have noticed these things. It took getting on hands and knees, fingers covered in dirt, spade and cultivator in hand, to have my eyes opened to these little wonders. Beyond the sweat and labor was beauty in its purest form.

Sometimes things that appear to be a certain way are, in reality, something vastly deeper and more complex. Let's take dandelions as an example. They look harmless enough on the surface. They're known to be edible, even, and appear on 5-star menus in dandelion green salads across the country. Zig-zaggy-edged leaves, yellow flowers, and the fun gray puffs that you blow to pollenate the dandelion weed that much further. But have you ever tried manually removing them from your garden? Those plants are a beast! No kidding, I've pulled out roots 1 foot long from my garden. There's more than meets the eye with those suckers! And it's the same in life. Things are rarely merely what they seem to be. Never evaluate something only at face value--you'll be deceived.

Value is subjective. Do I assign value and worth to the weeds in my garden? Nope. The vegetables I've planted, though, are a vision of organic nirvana in my mind. Fresh squash, tomatoes, green beans, and more that I've cultivated from seed to mature plant, that I've watched and inspected after each summer storm and sunny day, that I will pluck straight from the vine and eat in their still-warm form ripened just so from the sun's rays? Bliss. Meanwhile, bees happily dine on the blossoms of the dandelion and clover plants. Birds snatch up any old leaf or twig for a nest accoutrement. Rabbits, who love carrots and other vegetables, will just as easily munch on a fresh patch of regular green grass. Why do we waste so much time stating who or what is so much more important that this or that? We humans are all just trying to get by. There are no weeds, no less-thans. God's grace makes us all equal. The only real value is our value in him, not some false valuing system that exists in our minds and in our culture. Human is human.

Doing the rough stuff gets easier. This was my 4th time doing an in-depth de-weeding of my garden this summer. The first time, there were so many weeds that I didn't dare spend the necessary amount of time to get them all. Had I done so, I could have filled a whole trash bag. I filled 3 Kroger bags to the brim and called it a day. The next time, I filled 2 bags. The 3rd time, 1. Today, half of a bag. I find that this is true with any rough thing in life that I choose to tackle head-on. Budgeting, assessing my debt ratio, having a hard conversation with someone, deep cleaning my house, sticking up for myself, whatever. The more I give it a valiant effort and keep at it on a regular basis, the easier it becomes.

You don't know something/someone's limits until you've seen them weather a storm. This summer has been so rainy. I actually haven't been complaining because the days have been so mild, and my power bill has been so low. There's also almost nothing more refreshing than summer rain--(I do love the dog days, though, and wish it would heat up at least a little)--but it's been torturous to some of my vegetable plants. Peas? What few weren't consumed by chipmunks and made it to the seedling phase were uprooted and overturn in the muddy soil after a single summer storm. Tomatoes? One plant snapped clear in half (though I did manage to tie it to the stake in a way that made the stem graft back onto itself, and it's still alive and even has a handful of blooms). Watermelon? The shrimpy growth would make you think I planted them a week ago, instead of a month ago. Eggplant? Very few even sprouted, the soil was so wet. Herbs? Surviving, not thriving. (You catch my drift.) My dandelions and other weeds whose names I haven't even bothered to learn? Sturdy and sprightly as I don't even know what. There are no words to describe how well they've flourished in the near-flooded conditions of this summer. Certain things and people crumble under pressure; others thrive. You often don't know which it'll be until the water gets hot. Why label people? Let them be. Let their reactions to their circumstances show you who they are. It might just save you from eating your foot!

I love that I've found an activity that helps me think with such clarity. I actually can't wait until it's time to weed my garden again! (See? Rough stuff = easier.) I think I'll use that time to also pull up the weeds in my head and clear my mind.

More later,
-Kels