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The Nature of Seeing ... Weeds

 Sunflower and bee 

Paula Ebert headshotAs I’ve gardened, I’ve thought a lot about the nature of seeing. Let me try to explain. When I first arrive at the flower garden that is up by the sign by the road, I often see lots of weeds, even though I go out daily. I pull the weeds, then bit by bit, I begin to see beyond the weeds.

I see the snapdragons that need to be dead-headed. What a disturbing term. Dead-heading. But if you don’t do it, they bloom once and then you’re done. When you dead-head, the snapdragons branch out, and grow multiple blossoms. Like they are saying … Hah! You can’t defeat me. I’ll grow no matter what! This year, I put them out early in the spring, and it was a warm sunny day, then it turned cold and miserable and windy (reminded me of Wyoming), and I thought I’d lose several. Ironically, it turned out I only lost the one I stepped on by accident, while trying to weed. Although it was touch and go for a bit. Because of the Wyoming experience and the desiccating winds, I went out every day and watered the poor little plants.

But back to the seeing. It’s like the big stuff has to get out of the way first. First the weeds need to go, then I can see the rest of what must be done. There are rather bland parallel’s to real life – something like clear out the bad in order to appreciate the good, or first things first. Of course, the weeds have to go, they block the enjoyable things. I have discovered that I need to look two or three times to really see what has to be done, and I think that is the lesson, not to hurry when you look.

But what is a weed? We’ve had that discussion around here, trust me. I’ve gone by the old standard that a weed is a plant where you don’t want it. But see, I really like the sunflowers, and my husband sees them as an indication a lazy person letting the weeds grow. The same with the Flannel Mullen that I like and he calls “wild tobacco” for reasons unknown to me. Even though we never get ear infections around here, I had to restrain myself from gathering mullen blossoms to experiment with making the decoction when he sent my son out to chop down the mullen. My photo of the bee on a sunflower that took a purple at the county fair is an embarrassment to him, because it is on a – gasp… sunflower! Kansas is the sunflower state, right?

In any event, we will continue to fuss over the nature of what constitutes weeds, although we all agree on the thistles, crab grass and Bermuda grass. I won’t mention the photo I took of the butterfly on a thistle …