Monday, May 23, 2005


I've been pulling a lot of weeds here in Indiana. Pulled a bunch at my grandma's house, and my aunt Lynn's, my cousin Cortney's, Uncle Evan's. Grandpa wants me to come over and pull some for him too, though I don't know if I'll have time.

I like it. I find myself pulling weeds evenn where I have no business doing so, like when I'm walking down the sidewalk or when I'm visiting someone's house. I'll just lean over and pluck one or two out of the ground.

It's not quite as tricky as bowling, but there's still an art to it. You gotta be calm and gentle, grab it at just the right spot, give the thing a gentle shake while you're pulling to relax its hold on the dirt.

There's so many damn weeds. They grow a lot faster than anything we want to grow. Back home in KC, weeding is part of my morning routine. I call it weeditation. First thing in the morning, I do a spin around the garden beds, and there are just as many weeds to pull as there were the day before.

I sometimes wonder what the world would look like if I wasn't here to weed it. I know what my yard would look like. It would look like crap.

And I'm like, What does that say about nature? Which is a pretty stupid question. Nature looks best when we're not around. I once toured a hippy ranch in central Kansas, where the main hippy cowboy guy told me that the surface of Kansas prairie used to be this dense living organism that was so perfectly balanced and delicate that the minute a settler stabbed a plow into it it was destroyed. I guess that's the same way it is up in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, where they wanna tear it up for oil and Ted Stevens.

So what, then, are weeds? Are they just like precursors to the natural state of things, or are they these weird biproducts of our arrogant intrusion, plants made heartier and more resilient by our efforts and desires to get rid of them.

Gardening is such a trip. It's like controlling nature, like taking what would naturally just array the world however it sees fit in a way that we see fit, which is in a more compartmentalized way, in beds and such. Weeding reminds me of my years in AA, when I made numerous "personal inventories," the universally dreaded chore of recovering alcoholics to list and under our shortcomings. Sort of a Duh! metaphor.

Weeds make me all the more certain that we're not made in God's image, that we're actually contrary to it. In a lot of ways, anyway. And I think this actually makes us kind of neat, certainly privileged, because of all the beasts of the land, we have the most advanced abilities to create, or at least reorder, which is creation in a way, at very least it's a dance. But it's horrifying too, this apartness from nature we live in, the agony of our self-appointed God's imageness. Because once you start ordering things, once you decide that hibiscus plants will look better in that spot by the maple tree than whatever plant naturally might sprout up there, then you're hooked for life. You'll never stop stoping to yank up those weeds.

I guess this makes about as much sense as a TV on a camping trip. Funny, I started off wanting to right something about the corny symbolism of pulling weeds on a visit to family, especially a painfully introspective one like this. But what I really want to know is what's the deal with weeds? What does their history say about ours? Maybe I'll look into it one of these days.

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