The Wisdom of Weeds.

My front yard is mostly green, mostly tidy, and mostly grass. The few areas of weeds are unobtrusive – I’ve always liked clover and am happy to host the bees. The back yard, with no sprinkler system to keep the grass alive, has become a thicket of dandelions and shame.

Over the winter, the back yard was bare. When I threw a ball for my dog, Bella, clouds of dirt rose each time she launched her lithe body at a sprinter’s pace across the yard. Aside from the ever-present need to dust, I didn’t mind the dirt. It felt nice on bare feet on warmer winter days.

As weather grew warmer in spring, the first green shoots arose – each like miniature trees with purple or spiked trunks, pushing wide leaves and flowering crowns. They started small, and they kept the dust down. How do you weed a whole yard, I wondered? I didn’t want to spray chemicals where Bella lays and pants and licks herself (and eats what little grass remains), so uncertainty kept me frozen.

I left for a trip, and when I returned, the weeds had, well, grown like weeds. Periodically, I tried to pull a few of the worst offenders, but 30 minutes engrossed in the task cleared a couple square feet – it didn’t seem worth the time or the lower back pain. Each day, I tried to ignore what was rapidly getting out of control.

Surprisingly, this tactic didn’t work (it never does). Each time I said it wasn’t worth it, I was really saying I wasn’t worth it. I deserved to live in these tangled vines. So I didn’t invite friends over, stopped drinking my tea outside in the morning, and those invasive plants grew taller.

Then my mom scheduled a trip to visit me later this month. I looked outside and was struck, once again, by how bad I’d let things get. The nice thing about deadlines is they help you get out of your own head. With her visit in mind, I had to face the forest.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I feared (it never is). I remembered I have all kinds of tools to help me – gloves to guard from thistles and prickles, trowels to dig out roots, and podcasts to keep me entertained. It didn’t have to be perfect, I reminded myself – I just had to do what I could.


Sadly, not my yard.

I wish I could better remember the relief that accompanies facing a challenge you’ve been avoiding. I can tell you for sure it wasn’t worth all the fretting over these last months. It felt so satisfying to pull roots from the ground, to throw another leafy invader onto the pile. Next year, I get another chance – to get sprinklers, to put down seed – but for now, I’m doing okay.

My breath came easier, knowing the problem wasn’t as big as I’d thought, realizing I was up to the task.


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