Saturday, April 30, 2011

Three Tales of Survival, Part 1

As promised in an earlier post, I went back to the school district lawn and got a photo of one of my favorite weeds, Shepherd's Purse (top photo). A half dozen of them had risen above the height of the lush grass which is maintained at a great environmental cost, and were already going to seed. They must know they're about to be mowed. Before moving on for further explorations, I took in the wonderful crop of dandelions in that same lawn (2nd and 3rd photos). Then, on the way to my van, I saw what I thought was a large, dead Earthworm on the sidewalk (4th from top). I felt sad to see it dried out and in a place to soon be stepped on or crushed by a bicycle tire. I picked it up to toss it onto the lawn and it moved! Still clinging to life, it might now absorb enough moisture from the lawn to go back underground and live a while longer.
As I drove home from this place to get a snack and contemplate the next leg of my exploration, I revisited a question that comes to mind often: Why am I so enthralled by weeds? As I pulled into my driveway, several images collided in my mind: the two weeds and worm I had just photographed and the severely snow damaged birch and plum trees in my front yard. The first birch (5th photo from top) had been bent under the weight of heavy, wet snow from my neighbor's snow blower, and bent all the way to my garage roof. As the snow melted, my son strapped the trunk to a neighboring tree with some webbing and planned to gradually pull it upright. Then, as the juices of spring started to flow, negative geotropism took over and the tree attempted to grow straight up, even though its trunk remained quite bent. We figure we'll get one more summer of leafy pleasure and sapsucker visits from this tree then convert it to firewood in the fall. The neighboring birch tree broke in half under the weight of snow, so we cut it off around 4 feet from the ground, intending to remove the rest of it later (6th photo down). Lo and behold, those same spring juices started to flow with profusion and dribble down the sides of what remained of the trunk. Then, nearby, the plum tree that had been knocked over by the snow remained in a heap some three weeks after I had pronounced it dead and nearly cut it all into firewood (7th photo). But today I was startled to find it was nearly ready to flower (8th photo). Taken as a whole, these scenes were tales of survival. More to come shortly. Also, I think what has enthralled me about weeds is that like myself they struggle against the forces of domestication. Like the weeds, I have moved around a lot and resisted conforming. Willing to trade security and stability for adventure, I have had many wonderful adventures, but have also caused distress to others. Fortunately, no one has yet tried to eliminate me with Roundup or a weed eater.

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