Weed It Out


I was away for a week and didn’t get a chance to weed my small garden before I left. A few waterings would be missed in my absence, so I hoped that weeds wouldn’t gain too much ground. I returned to find more invaders than I expected. Two rainstorms had nourished my herbs and vegetables, along with heaps of unwanted plants I didn’t recognize.

I set to work. One thing my gardening errors have taught me is that weeding is more effective when performed slowly. Quick yanks leave roots behind, wasting time and effort. Patient pulling is more impactful – focused loosening of the soil, unhurried twisting, and a little thorough digging. Five daily minutes are easier than a half hour once per week. The weeds are much smaller and less established that way.

As my weed pile grew, I could smell the oxygenated soil around the vegetables. Their roots would be able to breathe now without competing for nutrients. Where did these unbidden plants come from? A few seeds blew in on breezes, while others sprouted up from my poorly-sifted kitchen compost. I didn’t plant any butternut squash, but it’s taking over my patch. Three interloper tomato plants popped up in the middle of the basil.

Many classic poems compare the mind to a garden, with metaphors of cultivation, sowing and reaping. The poets rarely make weed analogies, but I find it easy to imagine. Just like my veggies benefit from prompt and constant weeding, my mental state profits from some vigilant uprooting of pernicious thoughts. Where do they come from? Some materialize attached to things I see and hear. Others bubble up from my subconscious. A negative state attracts them like stickseeds on socks.

Weeding a vegetable garden is much simpler than keeping my mind clear and peaceful. Gloomy thoughts are best nipped in the bud, but that’s a perpetual challenge. Sometimes I’ll notice a negative thought and do nothing to weed it out. In fact, I might give it a little water and fertilizer, allowing it to get a foothold and grow into a formidable worry or irritation. I wish I didn’t do this, but it seems to be a side effect of an active imagination.

It’s not all bad. Who knows what I’ll do with the dozen butternut squash when they’re ready in a few weeks, but I’ve been tending them carefully. They’re an unexpected bounty – a delightful present from sun and soil. Good ideas and creative inklings seem to appear in similar fashion, so I’m going to work on providing a welcoming space for them.

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