Ramble: The Weed

I try to spend at least an hour a day in the garden. It’s good for my daughter and it’s good for me.  I’m sure it’s good for the garden too.  As soon as the spring sun peeps from behind the last winter cloud, I don my sturdy boots and stiff new gloves and set to work pulling out all those weeds I was able to ignore when snow or leaves covered the ground.

When I lived in Texas, I battled with more than weeds. The previous year’s vegetable patch often continued to enjoy success in the form of tomato and cucumber seedlings popping up in the most unexpected places—usually the middle of the lawn. Often, I mused that if we went away for a month, we would return to find a tangle of cucumber vines covering the lawn, robust tomato plants poking up between. Sometimes, instead of plucking them out, I just mowed them down, curious to see if they would shoot back up by the end of the week.  They did.

One year, I transplanted the tomatoes to the new vegetable bed and put a line of cucumbers along the back fence.  Later that year I wondered why on earth I thought we needed four cucumber plants. Two would have sufficed. It was always hard to kill the baby cucumber plants, though. They represented possibilities (and I have always hated to waste food).

Instead of growing up the fence, the cucumbers grew along it, giving the plant (and the fence) a rather messy look. One sturdy tendril took off along the grass, perhaps to establish a new colony (one I could tame!) then inexplicably curled around behind the rest of the vines.  The cucumber grew itself into a corner.  I could have gone in there and cut it back. I didn’t; the tangle appealed, in a way.

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