This year has been the year of weeds, the summer having bounced back and forth between weeks of rain that replenished the soil moisture and weeks of incredible sunshine. So I’ve bitten the bullet and started hacking away at the jungle (including trimming things that the previous residents of our abode also hadn’t gotten around to doing at any time in the last ten years or so).
I try to tell myself I’m an intermediate frequency ecological disturbance (unless I don’t do this again for several years, in which case I’m a really extremely occasional one), clearing the way for new life to have its shot at existence. I apologize a lot to the spiders. I try not to enjoy too much the smug feeling of accomplishment when I have razed everything to the ground. And then I have to go ice the tennis elbow that I’m still not entirely over after nearly 2 years (knitting is a dangerous sport).
But do you want to know the worst part about weeding the garden? It’s not the stealth attacks by stinging nettles. It’s not the ant bites either, no matter how painful they are nor how long they linger. It’s not the futility of ripping out ground elder, which keeping your garden clear of over here requires more eternal vigilance than does the guardianship of democracy. And it’s not the cat poo that lies in ambush, the spiders that end up in my hair, or the swollen eyes and stuffy nose I wake up with every next day after (presumably) stirring up all the evil hazel, birch, and alder pollen lying in the dirt from the springtime.
No. The worst thing about weeding the garden is the baby oak trees, like this one, who popped up beside my leeks. (Don’t worry, the hand is just there to give the autofocus camera something solid to focus on – no baby oaks were harmed during the production of this blog post.)
I don’t mind yanking out all the baby sycamore maples, the bazillions of baby silver birches, the baby common beeches, the blink and they’re four feet tall elders, or the hundreds of hazel trees that pop up in the lawn because the squirrels steal all the nuts, assiduously bury them, and then never seem to come back to eat them because I think they’re not so much storing food as intentionally replanting Europe with hazel forests. But it kills me to pull out a little tiny baby oak that, given a three or four hundred years, could become this…
… and then it would just keep growing.