Monday, July 25, 2011


Even a  good garden may have some weeds.  ~Thomas Fuller

Despite my intensely prolific brown thumb, I was determined to have a garden this year.  I love and admire my friends who garden. My friend, Tammie, could create an English country garden in one that looked as if it had been there forever. My friend, Deb, was able to design an outdoor space that had magical looking corners in each part of her yard. Even my mom's Arizona yard is much more 'Southwest resort' than it is desert wasteland. So, despite my lack of knowledge and skill, I decided that this was going to be the year I made my yard a haven, and not a hodgepodge. 

I failed. I failed miserably. The bulbs I planted last fall must have been eaten by the world's fattest chipmunks, who seem incredibly pleased with themselves this year. (No doubt, they'll be expected the same gourmet buffet in October). We lost a good many trees to the heavy snows. My flowers were either overwhelmed by rain or steamed by the intense heat of the past weeks. It was disappointing.

And yet, there are some things growing in my yard. They're just not the roses or day lilies I was expecting. There are flowering weeds just about everywhere. My mom has always maintained that weeds are much smarter than cultivated plants. She believes they are hardier and more adaptable. So, they can spring up wherever they can take root. The irony? Many of them are quite lovely. In my front yard are growing some lovely purple things. Do I know the names of them? Nope. I have no idea what they are. But they add some color and spunk to an otherwise purely green space. I have decided not to cut them or pull them out. They are pretty, they are hardy and they are resilient. So, I'm letting them grow where their wished for cousins have failed to bloom. They are really are quite charming.

I think that these weeds are a bit of a metaphoric message to me. We may wish for things to be different in our lives....we may want to change who we are and what direction we want to take. We may try to cultivate the parts of ourselves that we want to be more beautiful, more successful and more organized. The pieces of our intentions that take root aren't always the ones we expect...or the ones we've desired. However these 'weeds' of our personality may very well be quite wonderful. Perhaps our stubbornness sees us through tough times and enables us to persevere. Maybe our quick temper is a way we focus our energy in short bursts and can be trained--laser beam strong--to cut through layers of drama. What if the parts of ourselves we don't like can be looked at in another way? What if we can see our faults as essential layers of our personality, not to be winnowed and extracted, but honed and refined...creating something unique and useful?

Obviously, not all weeds, whether literal or metaphorical, are good for us. If left unchecked and allowed to run wild, they can take over completely and reign our yard and our lives in anarchy. Still, I wonder what would happen if we began to see other weeds, the pretty ones, the interesting ones, the curious ones, in a new light. Perhaps those weeds might serve a purpose for us if we only look at them in a different way.

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