This I Believe: Weeding With a Passion
As a girl, I hated weeding with a passion. Mom would declare a weeding day, and as much as my sister and I tried to make excuses or disappear from sight, we always ended up in the garden, sweaty and dirty and deep in a bed of thistle. Thirteen years later, I’m getting paid for my weeding and have a slightly different attitude toward the task.
I work in an organic garden in southern Idaho growing vegetables, flowers and herbs. Part of this process includes a lot of time spent weeding. There is the clover, the lamb’s quarter, the thistle, the grasses, and, of course, the inextinguishable purslane.
By the end of the day my hands and knees are black and green and I’m covered in a thin layer of dust or mud. I return home very dirty and very happy.
For me, what once was a nasty chore has turned into a sort of therapy. For this to happen, I had to realize and accept that walking into the weedy garden can be overwhelming and messy and dirty. I had to learn to start small and focus on what I could handle, and I had to be willing to get dirty and gross and sweaty and work hard. Sometimes the work is repetitive, and sometimes it is rewarding.
I had to learn to recognize what was bad, and learn the best way to take it out so that the good things can thrive. This usually means getting to the root of things. I had to learn how to be patient, and that I can’t always fully control the bad things. Then I had to learn to take a few steps back and look at the big picture.
The finished garden always looks so different from the start, all clean and organized. The good plants have room and nutrients to grow, and it feels good to see the product of my effort.
I believe that this is a little bit like how life works. It is messy and dirty and takes work, but is also so beautiful and tenacious. As Marge Piercy says in her poem “To Be of Use,” “The work of the world is common as mud./ Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust./ But the thing worth doing well done/ has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.” I believe that she may have done some weeding in her day.