Weed Removal Therapy

Janice Lindsay
Janice Lindsay

By Janice Lindsay, Contributing Writer

The far end of our back yard is a bog. The house sits on a slight rise. Behind it, maybe ten yards away, lies the edge of a quarter-acre of dampness. Our lot lies near the bottom of a gentle, half-mile slope, so rain water and snowmelt collect behind our house.

When we moved in, we noticed a network of natural trenches carrying water from the bog to a constructed trench beside the house that emptied into a stream, that flowed into the nearby wetlands, that emptied into the lake. To encourage and direct the flow through our yard, we laid drainage pipes in these natural gutters and covered them with small stones, pea stones.

Now we had a network of pea stone paths, maybe 150 feet of walkway about a foot wide, where we could stroll among the grasses and wildflowers that grew in the little unmanicured field.

Weeds (weed: any plant that grows where you don’t want it) loved our paths.  In one growing season, those paths might disappear under a blanket of clover, dandelions, saplings, and grasses. So somebody must weed the paths. That somebody was me.

And I discovered Weed Removal Therapy.

The job was never done. I worked a section at a time. The whole project could take days, weeks. When I finished one end, it was time to start again at the beginning. So any tine during the growing season, whenever I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, or sad about anything, I could don my gardening gloves, and grab my weed-collection bucket, my kneeling pad, and my favorite, sturdy three-pronged weeding tool whose proper name I don’t know.  Look out, weeds, here we come.

Weeding put me in the soothing company of birds, bees, butterflies, and wildflowers (that is, flowers that did not grow in my path). 

And what a sense of satisfaction, to survey a few feet of path whose edges had been hiding and muddled by uninvited greenery, but now looked clear, clean, and simple.

I returned to my indoor life with renewed peacefulness and proper perspective.

And now, as I  ponder Weed Removal Therapy, I wonder if I could weed my life as efficiently as I weeded the paths: root out distractions, unnecessary complexities, and picky details that require attention but don’t contribute to the enjoyment of my path.

I could delete those emails that look interesting and I think I’ll read them later but I never do; same with some magazines and newsletters; books I won’t read again; clothes I won’t wear again; household items I save because maybe I’ll use them some day, but probably won’t. I could unsubscribe to marketing emails from online vendors. I might miss a good sale occasionally, but mostly I waste time deleting the emails. 

Maybe I could weed out checking the online news so often. How much do I really need to know? The news used to be a morning paper and TV at 6 p.m. We seemed to manage.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could weed out those worries concerning things we can’t do anything about? Or regrets about past events that we can’t change? Or fears about future problems that might never happen? 

But weeding is not so easy when it involves possessions with their attached memories, or long-standing habits, or persistent thoughts swirling in our brains. These often have roots even deeper than the dandelions that marred my pea stone paths. They can seem too much to tackle, even for my favorite, sturdy three-pronged weeding tool whose proper name I don’t know.


Contact jlindsay@tidewater.net.