We took Monday off this week, which was lovely, and a bit of a first for us. When you work at home, setting your own schedule, it is amazingly easy to neglect vacation days. In my former life as a teacher, there were always a number of three day weekends which we used to go do exciting things (usually involving hiking and mountains). But without an employer telling us we get the day off, we may have unproductive days, but we’re really bad at taking no-work days and going off to do something fun.
Some of that is the lack of mountains. We have more trouble here finding things that seem to merit taking the day off for. But the weather has been so nice, and we’ve spent so little time on our bikes recently, we decided to throw our bikes in the car and try out the Wabash Trace nature trail. It was lovely. And now I am very sore.
And on our day trip, I realized how… what’s the word? preoccupied? obsessed? fascinated?… I’ve become with weeds.
A lot of this is explained by the new eyes that new knowledge can give you. Now that I can recognize and identify lots of different plants common to this area, I’m no longer just seeing green stuff growing along roadsides and trails; there is suddenly a lot more to notice, and it is all so much more interesting than before.
But there’s more to it. Now that I’m a gardener, I have all kinds of emotional responses to plants. I feel soothed whenever I run across a giant patch of stinging nettles in someone else’s space; clearly I am not the only one incapable of keeping them at bay. I feel excited to see new types of weeds growing rampant; at least I don’t have those!
A long time ago (well, long enough that I was still in Seattle, dreaming about leaving that life for this), I said I loved weeds. My relationship to weeds is more complicated than that now. There are still many weeds that I do love (like dandelions! Man oh man, sometime I’ll do a whole post about how fabulous dandelions are). But in general, I recognize most weeds as the mixed blessing they are.
I’ve got a book out from the library called My Weeds: A Gardener’s Botany, and so far, it is brilliant. The author, Sara B. Stein, is both a gardener and a science writer, and while the book is all about the science and practical experience of weeds, it is also about morality and immortality and who knows what else. And I find it to be yet another reminder that the more you know about something, the more the world opens up, becoming even more complex and even more beautiful.
As someone who loves learning, and thinking just for the sake of thinking, maybe I can say without conditions that I still do love weeds. They are great food for thought, if nothing else.