The earth around my house grew wild during the 12 days we were on road trip. When we arrived home on Sunday the first thing I did was walk my yard. The petunias, lilies and lobelia needed water. The rabbits munched all the coneflowers in our new raingarden, but the Golden Alexanders, sideoats grama, New England asters and butterfly weed were green and growing. The wood sorrel had taken over the little garden by the cedar tree; new thistles had sprouted.
I pull and uproot this wild growth, making room for the purple petunias, the hostas, and the day lilies that will bloom this week. I enjoy the profusion of green, but it’s empty spaces that make a garden, so I tug out the quack grass and other weeds whose names I don’t yet know. A garden emerges: colorful, simple, beautiful.
Even as I uproot what I call weeds in this situation, I love them. I love their spirit, their tenacity and perseverance, their yearning towards life wherever they can find it. These weeds that return, that live in the undesirable locations—the edges of places, in disturbed ground, clinging to soil that is insufficient for other plants. I admire the thistle plants that I didn’t pull soon enough last year. Their seeds spread and are now germinating. I prick my fingers to pull them out. This is the back and forth, the exchange, the relationship between plants and me. The thistles sprout and I pull them out, letting the growth return to the soil to decompose.
We both try; we both do our part. The thistles and I: we find opportunities to live, we wound with our thorns, we return to the earth.