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Amorites in the garden, and other reflections on weeding

June 28, 2008


In our garden, I am Joshua, the weeds are Amorites, and I want to kill them all.

People weed differently. My husband weeds like a farmer. I weed like a suburbanite. He turns the weeds over with a roto-tiller, or implements, or his hands, and leaves them on the ground, roots up, to die. I pull them up by hand, by their roots if I can. When unable to uproot a stubborn violator, I cut it down to the ground so the plot looks nicer. I do not leave them on the ground; that looks terrible. I put them in our 90-gallon city-issue yard waste containers. Filling two of these with weeds and trimmings produces a bravura sense of triumph.

He loves the land. Our quarter acre is the Ponderosa to him. I like the grapes and the flowers. I like looking out the window at them from our air-conditioned house.

I take pleasure in the discipline of tending the garden for an hour at a time. When my back and knees get sore, I bellow for a condo.

Pruning exercises my mind and relieves my back and knees. I exercise discretion over every branch of every bush and shrub. Most decisions are aesthetic; some are based on the good of the bush. Roses send out all sorts of needless shoots. If a shoot has no buds, I lop it so the plant’s energy will support budding shoots. A few decisions are frankly driven by revenge against branches whose spatial parameters have coincided too closely with my own. Wounded people amputate wounding branches.

The diversity of color and form, even among roses on the same bush, amazes me. I am seeing a microcosm of God’s infinite creation, appearing in more discrete forms than I can ever take in. No doubt every organism of this infinitesimal patch of creation groans under my deficient stewardship.


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