“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.” Doug Larson, Wisconsin journalist
It’s very Southern these days in Appalachia. The morning air could almost be considered cool, but all will turn sultry by mid-day, somehow providing a megaphone to just about everything. The honeysuckle that grows wild in many alleyways almost overwhelms in its sweetness. And, the plant growth, what can I say? It’s intense.
Yesterday, I dragged a mammoth garbage can all over the yard, cutting back and weeding until I filled it to the top. There must have been hundreds of morning glory sprouts in places they should not be. The lilacs had shot up so high they were blocking the view from the bay window. And, lacy white flowers I have thus far been too lazy to identify had invaded the lilies — again.
Yank, yank. Snip, snip. A cottage garden may look willy-nilly on the surface, but it takes a surprising amount of work to keep willy-nilly from turning wild and wooly. I’m out there watering every day it doesn’t rain and doing deep maintenance at least once a week, even if passersby on our busy corner of the neighborhood can’t always tell.
“This garden is utterly charming,” two walker ladies said not long ago. “Overgrown, but charming.” They didn’t know my husband, who was reading behind a screen of deck railing and roses, was silently laughing his head off. No doubt he was picturing himself wielding both mower and string trimmer and me, with gloves that stretch almost to my elbows, pulling out poison ivy. Gloves, lest I wind up in the urgent care in need of a steroid shot again.
Overgrown. Indeed. I bristled a bit when he shared this bit of news, but had to admit that it’s our garden’s high visibility that keeps me mostly vigilant. I know people see it and I know people talk. So, I weed.
I have to admit, I’m not that different when it comes to my soul. Living in a family with long ties to Christian ministry combined with a profession that is entirely visible to the public puts me on display whether I feel up to it or not. Later on this morning, for example, I am interviewing a rabbi inside a synagogue. Wondering if a shell top would offend if we wind up in the sanctuary for photos, I changed my outfit plan.
Some people would call that stupid, or sexist or religiously legalistic. I just consider it “maintenance,” the same kind of attention that I would give our garden. It’s true. I try to watch my dress, my words, my actions lest a passerby look over the fence into my life and see something that distracts their view from what is really worth looking at — God.
Am I always successful — in the garden or in my spiritual life? No, as the walker ladies and myriad others can attest. But, I’m trying. I’m really trying. I know both God and people see and, the people at least, will talk. So, I weed.