Pretty Weeds

My wife and I have been watching a bush grow outside our dining room window all summer. Neither of us could remember planting it, but it was thriving without needing any care. This week it blossomed with small white flowers. A no-care plant that blooms in the Fall, we thought—how nice. 

Then we noticed a similar plant growing throughout our woods. We know that we didn’t plant these. It turns out that this wonderful no-hassle plant in the bed by our dining room window is a weed. A pretty weed. We’ve been watching another—different, but also attractive—weed grow all summer in a pot by our front porch. We knew we hadn’t planted that one, but we liked the way it just plopped down and grew to look much more impressive than its pot-mate, the flower that we had purchased and planted in the spring.

Earlier this year, a guy trying to sell me a lawn-care service approached me, pointed to my front yard, and said: “I see you have a clover problem.” “Oh no,” I replied, “ I have no problem growing clover.” Now, I knew from past experience that if I told him that I didn’t like the idea of putting chemicals on my lawn, he would offer an even more expensive “organic” treatment program. I usually tell these guys that I have two small boys and one big dog who all like to play in the yard, so I just don’t see the lush lawn pictured on the side of their truck in my immediate future. But for once I wasn’t trying to be a smart alec. I had been admiring the clover sprinkled so nicely throughout the grass and thought that if it were difficult to grow, then gardeners would be sowing seeds and lawn care services would be spraying to induce clover growth. I’m trying to learn to like the look of dandelions as much as I like clover, but that’s proving more difficult. Not as difficult as getting rid of them, so I’ll keep trying. And the boys like to blow the seeds into the wind, so at least I can consider them fun, free toys.

So my thought for the day—a thought that has been developing all season—is: embrace the weeds. All kinds of metaphorical meanings could be gleaned from this catchphrase. But for now let’s just take it literally. Embracing weeds is ecologically and economically sound. Thinking this ought to be a movement, I tried to register the domain Alas, it is a parking site with ads for herbicides. So wrong. I see that is available, though. So is Perhaps I don’t have my finger quite as much on the Zeitgeist as I thought…