After a long, cold spring, I have enjoyed spending quality time in my garden. Hmmm… not quite. After a long, cold spring, I have enjoyed spending quality time weeding my garden. Hmmm… not really honest. Let’s try again. After a long, cold spring, I have found the quality time I have spent with my weeds to be rather thought provoking. And did I mention the sheer amount of quality quiet time that went on for hours and hours?
What is it about those colorful yellow dandelions, and thistles with roots that must go at least to China, (maybe even to Austrailia), that make my mind so at ease as I dig each one out, one by one. It’s a strange mix of soothing monotony and philosophical wonderment at the sheer variety, quantity, and historical significance of these weeds that stubbornly occupy all the corners of my mind. Why are they here? Why do they keep coming back year after year? How did they get here? A bird? A weed left from last year? Do the roots re-grow? Are the seeds blowing from gardens miles away? Do they hibernate? Why do they grow when it’s so cold, but the plants I want to see growing and vibrant are waiting for an 80 degree day to poke through the ground?
Oh, I’m still not done… Why are they so hard to get rid of? Why do they keep coming back? All things in nature serve a purpose, right? So what exactly is this purpose? To keep gardeners honest and hard-working so we really appreciate all that we end up harvesting? To keep my children out of my strawberry patch (good luck here)? However, when the members of my household figure out that spring gardening is actually pulling and digging out weeds, blissful quiet does seem to follow.
Wikipedia to the rescue. Hmmm… the milk thistles in the pictures here look kind of pretty- brilliant purple blooms and all. Better yet, thistles are the ancient symbol of nobility and character according to Celtic tradition (say what?). Plus, the thistle is the symbol of Scotland. (I never did understand Europeans.) And they happen to be the favorite nectar of a number of types of butterflies. (Sorry butterflies, I will not let these thistles blossom in my garden, you’re going to have to find a nice waterway, ditch, or tall, grassy plain for dinner). But I have to admit, the thought that most comes to mind dates way back to the Garden of Eden. If mankind wouldn’t have sinned and brought this punishment of thistles to make growing food difficult for time and eternity (something about “the sweat of your brow”), would they be here? I’m guessing not. Thank you, Adam and Eve. (Although, in the 3,000 years since they lived, I’m guessing someone would have sinned, so is it really fair to blame them solely and fully?) I appreciate the literary fervor of Genesis 3:17-18, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt you eat of it for all the days of your life.”
So, after a long, cold spring, I am sorrowfully taking on the punishment of weeding my cursed ground so that tiny buds of vegetable and fruit plants can catch a glimpse of sunshine. Beside the joy of putting in a good day of sweaty, hard work and an amazingly weed-free garden for three whole days, I have learned some other helpful lessons as well. Children will not bother you when weeding, because they instinctively know you will gladly share the mission of trying to find your garden through the weeds. And did you know that thistles connect one to another? Oh yes, not only does their individual root extend deep into the earth, but there is a horizontal connecting root that connects little thistle families in the same one foot square area. Apparently this allows recently plucked thistles to revive themselves to rejoin their thistle family reunion every week. Maybe it’s an analogy for something more? Hmmm… like the importance of finding the source of your pain instead of just treating the symptoms, or they will simply come back? I don't know; that seems way too obvious. I'll have to spend some more quality time weeding to figure this one out… oh look, I see more thistles poking through the soil. Until next time…
Happy Gardening and every other summertime hobby!
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