"Oh no, Mama! Don't pull that one! It's so pretty!"
I'm finally cleaning out those garden boxes out back. To be honest, I wasn't at all sure I'd get to it this year. So many things on my heart and mind that pulling weeds and battling the groundhog population just seemed like another defeat I couldn't bear. Still, on the prettiest day so far this year, I found myself on my knees with my hands in the dirt. It felt marvelous, as it always does.
"I know they look pretty, honey, but those are weeds. If we leave them, they will choke all the plants we want to grow. We have to get rid of them."
Oh, those sweet, innocent looking purple flowers. They are rather pretty, I suppose, but I know something my daughter doesn't. I know about the impossibly complex underground root system, how they crawl their way through and over everything, intent on taking over the whole world. I know that, pretty as they are, they are evil. Pure evil, at least to this disgruntled gardener. They must come out if anything good is to grow there.
She sighs and bends down to pull one. As we work, side by side, I think about gardening and weeds and the many reasons it's so good for me to get back into it. The lessons I learn out there, soaked in fresh air and sunshine and perspective. Truths to share with my kids with visual aids built right in.
We pull weeds and the time just floats on by. I know first hand how hard it is to extract things from your life that need to go for you to grow. How the destructive things in life don't always appear bad - sometimes they are downright attractive, innocent even. Sweet and unassuming, and not until later do you realize they are taking up space that belongs to something else. Like pretty little weeds, intent on taking over, sneaking in and rooting deeply.
We get to the middle of the box and she asks "Mom, is that a weed?" and I realize, no...some things have survived. Despite the mess all around, despite the choking weeds...they're keeping up the fight, going right on growing. Another lesson - that you can always clean things up and start over.
I don't know what will grow this season. I don't know how well I'll stick to it. But I know that if I work at it, one day at a time, amazing things are sure to happen. Beautiful, happy things. Things that make it all worth it, in the end. Every drop of sweat, every back ache, every sunburn. And every pretty weed pulled.
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