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Monday, August 17, 2009

Beautiful Weeds: A Childhood Story

I recently ran across a statement where someone said, "A weed is simply a plant growing where you don't want it".

I chuckled at the truth of that statement and the fact that only a human would call certain plants 'weeds' in the first place, attaching a negative connotation to it, as if it were of less value than any other plant. (An animal would not say that, regardless of whether they wanted to eat the plant or not!)

Back when I was about 10 years old, I recall standing with my sister and our childhood playmate, Jessica, in Jessica's backyard. I loved her backyard, because it often looked like an authentic field of wild grasses and flowers from a distant countryside. It had that 'untouched' look to it, with plants growing beyond my knees.

My own backyard did not have this wild appearance due to the fact it was mowed down regularly to a 'green-only' appearance. Therefore, the unidentifiable colored plants that grew in Jessica's yard were nonexistent in my own and thus a great source of interest for me.

Looking back, I really don't recall which of us came up with the idea of starting a flower business, but regardless, Jessica's backyard inspired the idea. We were careful to select only the prettiest of the flowering plants- some with blue, pink and purple blossoms. Using shovels much too large, we dug them up and carefully placed each plant into a paper cup and into Jessica's little red wagon.

From there, we then went door to door with our new business on wheels. Most of our neighbors seemed not to be home (I bet they saw us coming), however one kind neighbor answered the door. We explained we were selling flowers and she seemed genuinely interested. I recall she looked with great interest at our dozen or so plants, commenting pleasantly about each of them.

My personal favorite was a plant that had pretty blue flowers on it and I recall pointing it out to her, however she said she already had one of those. She finally decided upon a purplish plant, paid us a quarter and thanked us for stopping by.

Next in line was my own home. We knocked on the door (wanting to look professional) and my dad answered. We asked if he'd be interested in buying a flower for the yard.

Unfortunately, my dad did not have the same appreciation for our business or flower selection as our previous neighbor had (bless her heart). He said we were selling weeds, not flowers and within a moment he shut our business down.

I remember being baffled and upset that he was not pleased by our choice of venture and that he was calling our flowers 'weeds' and saying it in such as way as if they were insignificant.
I recall even saying, "But Dad, they're not weeds! See the flowers? Look at the pretty colors! Our neighbor just bought one for her garden!" My wonderful Dad just could not see my point.

Looking back as a child, one still sees the beauty of something without the labels or attachment that adults often place upon things. Children just see plants as they are, full of color and novelty.

To this day, while I appreciate a nicely mowed lawn, I still like colorful dandelions and other 'weedy' plants that sometimes creep onto a yard. I just love the array of colors. Why some people battle these fine, lovely plants with gusto still baffles me. If they mix into a yard, I personally think they add even more to its beauty.

Whoever decided that 'all green' was the only way a yard should look anyway? I suppose it's simply a preference. I have noticed that humans often label aspects of nature as 'good' or 'bad', depending upon how it relates to us or it's value to us. But what if that's just an opinion? Our opinion? What if nature's opinion is less structured or black and white about where weeds should and should not be? And what if to nature there actually is no such thing as a 'weed'- but only plants- all of whom have value?
In closing, I salute the 'weeds' in nature and give thanks for their splash of color on the green carpet of life. And thanks to the childhood experience of seeing their beauty while still innocent of the thoughts many in the adult world would apply to them.

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