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Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Have I mentioned that I don't do gardening well? Enough so that you believe it? Then you're not going to believe this.

I spent an hour this afternoon pulling weeds.


Over the past few weeks, when I've been standing outside with a hose in my hand, I have of course noticed that some of the plants I watered were not particularly attractive. I went so far as to call them "weeds," although in most cases I dislike name-calling. I don't think mean-spirited finger-pointing adds anything constructive to the discussion.

For all I know, weeds are nothing more than aesthetically-challenged flowers. I only knew that I was thoroughly unqualified to make any value judgments that might lead to floricide.

Then I got out the dictionary. First of all, to my relief, there's apparently no such word as "floricide." And a weed is "any uncultivated or undesirable plant."

What a lovely, conveniently ambiguous definition. It was empowering. Basically, anything I didn't want to look at could be eliminated. License to kill.

Of course, I did nothing about it all these weeks, until today. It wasn't planned, but the weather was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold. Before I could change my mind I found my gloves, clippers and trowel. All were in their original packaging, purchased when I moved to Green Acres but never used there.

I started in the area just outside my back door, near the porch where I like to sit and write. But I had no plan, nor any desire to overwork myself. I pulled up the most obvious offenders first, then wandered off in different directions, wherever something happened to catch my eye.

It all came together when I found the shovel, left behind by the previous tenant here at the Fortress. Oh, what a marvel of basic engineering is that tool. Once I started digging and chopping with it, I got so much more done than I anticipated. I can't say that everything I tossed into the yard waste barrel was a weed in the classic sense, but in my yard I decide what is a weed.

You would have laughed to watch me "work," which is precisely the reason I never did much gardening at any other place I've lived. The difference here is that no one can see me! No prying neighbors, no one driving by on the street. I could putter at my own plodding pace, mutter to myself, and wander around with that lost look whenever I misplaced a tool.

Once I'd filled the barrel, I was satisfied and ready to quit. No one but me could tell anything had been done, but that's okay. I'm the one who looks at it every day, and I can affirm that it looks better.

Tomorrow night I'll haul the barrel out to the curb. I got a notice from the garbage company that they will soon be providing us with new cans for both trash and yard waste. I will be pleased to fill the latter weekly with whatever I decide is a "weed."

After this exercise, I washed all the scratchy debris off my arms and pulled a chair out onto the porch, where I could survey my estate. Not too closely, though. It's still mostly weeds.

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