Evolutionarily speaking, we human beings often project an insufferable smugness about our superiority over other living creatures. We have developed the deft skills to communicate in complex and dexterous ways. We have the unique ability to reason—to make sense of information, to rationalize, to use logic and to determine cause and effect. And we discovered how to make ice cream. That alone is proof enough for most folks.
But there are, of course, many things that other beings are capable of that we humans are not.
1. Spontaneously changing one’s gender.
2. Breathing under water.
4. Seeing in the dark.
5. Throwing up one’s internal organs in order to scare off an enemy.
I’m entirely game for having skills 2 – 4, but I might pass on the bookends.
Regardless, being in the throes of gardening season, I was surprised to find out something remarkable about one of my constant companions among the berries and blossoms: bees are capable of making out patterns on flowers written in an ultraviolet language. This broad spectrum of color basically lights up like a landing strip for the pollinating aviators, leading them straight to a treasure chest of nectar.
Still, they can’t make ice cream, which keeps me firmly on the top rung of the evolutional ladder.
Hot, sweaty, stiff and aching, I made a sound decision yesterday while working in the flower beds to even up the stakes and make my partners in posies feel less inferior. Since green is just a blah background color to this hive of horticulturists, I’m joining their ranks—sort of.
I’m giving up. The weeds are winning. But who have I been weeding for? The bees aren’t fussed. None of them have tapped me on the shoulder and pointed me toward a patch of unruly intruders. They leave no map pinned to a bag of potting soil with an area of the garden circled in red that needs particular attention that day. So I figure I shall spend the energy elsewhere.
Like in the house, to navigate the extra steps around the pile of shoes at the front door. (Weeds.) Or on the kitchen counter, when trying to create an empty space for cooking in between mounds of my children’s textbooks and schoolwork. (Weeds.) Or on my desk, while I transfer one heap of library books, magazine recipes, calendars and Post It notes onto another. (Weeds.) I don’t see these things. They are blah background color and definitely not a treasure chest of nectar.
I’m also attempting to change my negative image of weeds altogether. I’ve been told that these invasive sprouts operate much like a diagnostic tool and can communicate information about the nutritional balance of the soil simply by observing each weed’s growth habits. And that in some circumstances, these plants are growing on my patch of earth because their job is to replace vital nutrients lost or absent. They can be telltale signs of something good to come.
With that in mind, I decided to reassess the indoor weeds.
A pile of shoes? Obviously, they are absent of the feet regularly wearing them, and therefore suggest there is an abundance of extra bodies laying about the house that can be accessed for manual labor. Extra shoes equal extra hands.
Mounds of textbooks and schoolwork? Brains have recently been at work, are increasing their knowledge base and are continuing along the path to financial scholarship since I have sadly spent most of the parental portion of the contribution toward college on potting soil and mulch. I will leave their education within easy reach.
Heaps of library books, magazine recipes, calendars and Post It notes? … Nope. I just sat here staring at the blinking curser for ten minutes. I’ve got nothin’.
So I searched my sources for quotes. I needed something positive, uplifting, determined … capable of “sprouting” a new perspective.
I found a few like-minded folk.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet,
Long live the weeds and the wildness yet.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins
A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. ~Doug Larson
Weeds are nature’s graffiti. ~Janice Maeditere
I learn more about God
From weeds than from roses;
Through the smallest chink of hope
In the absolute of concrete….
~Phillip Pulfrey, “Weeds,” Perspectives, www.originals.net
Crabgrass can grow on bowling balls in airless rooms, and there is no known way to kill it that does not involve nuclear weapons. ~Dave Barry
After plastering some of these around my desk, I feel somewhat emboldened with my new interpretation of “going green.” From now on when I visit the gardens, I plan to embrace my past discomfort. I shall see the weeds for their message and potential: we are sturdy, we are tenacious, we can be beautiful, we are healing, and in some cases, we are tasty.
Evolutionarily speaking, these guys are contenders.
But they can’t make ice cream.
PS May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott’s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.