Monday, May 19, 2008

Out, Damn Weeds!

I have to go out and weed now. I'm going to rip out as many dandelions as I can, always, of course, leaving plenty for the goldfinches and housefinches because I simply can not keep up.

I looked out of our bedroom window to the backyard below and saw 11 birds eating and visiting our yard. 3 golfinches, 2 housefinches, a cardinal couple (maybe the female came back...or, it's a totally new couple) a couple of sparrows and a couple or robins bobbing along trying to get worms out. I also looked over at the neighbors' yards on all sides and only saw a couple of stray dandelions and not a single bird. They would just swoop through and not land in those yards.

We may be weedy around here, but we are hospitable--pull up a chair birds, set a while!

Since our dishwasher broke a long time ago and more recently our drier, and we've decided to forgo fixing them for the time-being, my oldest sister laughed and said we should just put our house up on's not that we can't fix these things. It's that we're trying to find a more simple way of doing things, which means slowing down and waiting an entire day for clothes to dry. It means doing a mound of dishes together, talking at the end of the day. It means not putting any poison on our lawn and letting dandelions sprout up all over the place.

So, now it means me going out there and weeding the sprouted up dandelions.

I'm reading a great book called Second Nature: A Gardener's Education, by Michael Pollan. Among other things, he makes points about how we make distinctions in gardening and want to separate out man's hand from Nature's own pure work. That's now difficult to do in our country. I just learned that: dandelions, Queen Anne's Lace, clover, and even tumbleweeds are all European imports, castaways on boots when the New World was conquered by the old. So, really a dandelion is not an indigenous weed, it's European, which is not a bad thing--I'm a European mix--but, it's not the innocent, wrongly maligned spot of sunshine that I thought it was. It was an opportunistic, scrappy hanger-on that made it here in a big way.

Good on ya, dandelion, but I don't feel the same way about you any more as I still do milkweed, for example. I don't think you're a scourge as my neighbors do, but, I don't feel guilt any more ripping you and your tenacious tap root out of the ground. And, I'm going to plant clover in your place. Yes, that's right, you heard me. Clover fixes nitrogen to the soil which helps the grass any way. Plus I also like the less showy but intoxicatingly perfumed white little blossoms. And now the bunnies will have a place to eat here too.

Welcome bunnies, pull up a chair and set a while! You just have to nudge the birds aside.

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