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Garden reflection on cannibals

July 2, 2008

I finished a three-mile walk on my treadmill, forcing myself to read something substantive while I peeled off the miles in my scenic red study. I was reading about a missionary to the New Hebrides who knew real hardship and real swipes with death on a daily basis among murderous cannibals. I felt useless and awkwardly suburban in my own sanctum.

I really didn’t want to change my clothes to work in the yard and then shower again, but I was too claustrophobic to do anything else. I needed to get outside and I could think of nothing else purposeful to do. I’ve never been one to relax outside and just gaze out at our yard. I don’t sit outside and do things because our outdoor chairs are uncomfortable for reading or knitting; besides, the bees have dominion over the deck. My husband wasn’t home yet to play croquet. I decided not to change and just to pull a few weeds and somehow stay clean. I have no idea where such a concept originated.

I filled a 5-gallon bucket, mostly with dry bluebell stalks and Stinking Robert, which in my area is an officially designated noxious weed. I find it gratifying to pull up because it uproots easily, and its spread makes a huge weed disappear for little effort. I stuffed the weeds down in my bucket, pulled more easy weeds, and emptied my bucket in the 90-gallon yard waste container outside the gate. Across the street, two of my neighbors were chatting.

I went back for more weeds. Both my arms started itching. I tried to tough out the itching because my gloves were dirty. I noticed hives coming up on both arms. Oh well. I pulled some more weeds behind some ferns. Now my right arm was really stinging. A tiny, thoroughly evil black spider was probing his mean little proboscis into my arm. Who invited you into the Ark? I determined his offense capital and summarily executed him. A half-dollar-size welt formed in his place.

I emptied my bucket again. My neighbors were still chatting. While you were out here chatting it up, I have pulled 10 gallons of weeds that will grow back overnight, been attacked by a killer allergen, and had an attempt on my life at the presumptive teeth of a spider. But their yards are perfect, so they get to chat. It’s my turn for outdoor adventure and weeds and spiders.

I get the inexpressible joy of a hot shower at 4:00 in the afternoon, and know the lavish comfort of clean socks and the absurd chatter of a peaceful neighborhood free of cannibals.

What bounty comes in two buckets of Stinking Robert.





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