Weeds. Weeds are a problem for gardeners. We pull, we poison, we apply pre-emerge, we mulch, and we pull some more. Weeds can turn our beautiful garden spot into a nightmare and make us miserable. Weeds grow anywhere and in places we can't imagine. They are persistent and pesky. Weeds are sadness personified.
But I have a crazy appreciation for weeds, and I feel that it's wrong. I'm conflicted about my weed love. Just as Romeo and Juliet were star crossed lovers, weeds should not be loved, they should be hated and reviled. We've declared a war on weeds and shouldn't adore them. Any of them. But I do.
My relationship with weeds began a long time ago. When I was growing up, in the age before video games and cell phones, when there were three TV stations, summer fun was playing outside. The yard was a wonder place full of lovely plants and bugs ripe for a child's imagination. One day, I found a fluffy seed head in the grass, and when I held it up to look at it, the seeds started to blow away. I found more fluffy seed heads and blew them to the wind. It was magical. I never got tired of it. I would find and blow the seeds to the wind until there weren't any more. The way they drifted off into the unknown! Heaven! Adults got upset. "We'll have dandelions everywhere!" they said. "Exactly", I said, "what's wrong with that?" Dandelion. Just the name evoked jungle mystery. They were beautiful and I couldn't understand why people hated them.
One day, when I was little, my mom and I were standing in a long line at the movie theater waiting to see, "Herbie the Love Bug", (yes, this was a long time ago, just stay with the story). I got bored waiting in line and there was a lovely lawn next to the line filled with dandelions. I picked my mother a bouquet. As I went back to my place in line, I held up her bouquet and hugged my mother around her knees, but my mother had moved up in line, and I was hugging the wrong knees! Fortunately, the lady liked the dandelion bouquet too, and I made her day.
Being a child and close to the ground, I loved other weeds as well. I would lay in the grass ("You'll get chiggers!" they said, but I never did.) and notice the many different kinds of weeds there. So many kinds! Clover was amazing. It came in two colors, pink and white, and I couldn't understand why nobody wanted clover in their lawn. It attracted bees that, as long as I didn't step on them, were fun to watch. Reed-like weeds could be taken apart to make whistles or to make tubes to breathe through for those times when you had to hide in a lake. (Hey, it could happen!). Queen Anne's Lace was a treasure that improved any weed bouquet.
As I've grown up, I've never lost my appreciation for weeds. I still love to admire flowering weeds on the roadside while I'm driving or taking my daily walks. It upsets me when we mow our lawn for the first time in the spring and cut off all of the pretty flowers. A fluffy dandelion seed head still makes me smile. Weeds evoke good memories of long summer days, and childhood play in simpler times. My mom passed away in December, and every time I see a dandelion I think of a little girl in line at a movie theater, and my weed love deepens.
I wanted to pass weed love on to my children when they were little. I encouraged playing outside and weed soup making. I would take them out in the yard to find dandelion seed heads and teach them to blow them to the wind. "We'll have dandelions everywhere!", my husband said. "Exactly," they said, "what's wrong with that?" The weed love continues.