Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Weeding in My Garden

We've had a lot of rain here lately. A lot. Enough to flood the streets on the way to our day care, giving my kids an extra day off from day care on the Wednesday before Christmas. Now, day care is in a valley, and San Diego is notoriously bad at providing adequate drainage for its valleys... but that was still a lot of rain.

All the rain has brought out the weeds in our front lawn, which we had landscaped with native plants earlier this year. Thanks to this development, I can definitively state that the bark ground covering is better at resisting weeds than decomposed granite, but I still love the two-tone look of our yard using the two different types of ground cover.

So I've spent a lot of time recently weeding. Weeding may be the only yard work I don't mind doing.  There is something satisfying about disentangling the roots from the dirt, and something gratifying about seeing an area cleared of weeds. Also, since it is a native landscape, there is none of the grass that makes me itchy in our front yard.

I did a fair amount of weeding on New Year's Eve, so perhaps it is no surprise that my thoughts turned to resolutions while I worked. I've always made resolutions in some form. I like the idea of a fresh start, I guess. While I was pulling weeds and thinking about what I might resolve this year, it occurred to me that the two things are pretty similar. Think about it- some weeds are easier to uproot than others, and we all know that some bad habits are easier to kick, too. I mean really, why is it so hard to consistently floss your teeth every night? (What? Is that just me?)

I think the weeding metaphor might even give us a hint as to why some habits are easier to change than others. Obviously, small, young weeds are easier to uproot than big ones that have had times to really establish their roots, just like new habits are easier to change than old ones. But also, weeds with wide root systems are harder to get out, even harder than those with deep roots. Similarly, I think that bad habits that touch more parts of your life are harder to eliminate, too. This may be why any resolution I might make to give up chocolate would be doomed to fail. Luckily, I think of chocolate as a "real plant" and not a weed- and that points out another similarity. The choice of what is a weed and what is a "real plant" is largely a matter of opinion. So, I'm busily pulling out grass that has invaded from our neighbor's lawn. Our neighbor, on the other hand, is busily fertilizing her grass so that it will grow.

While you're weeding, you know that some of the weeds you're pulling up are going to come back, unless you spray them with herbicide. But that would kill some of the real plants, too, so you resign yourself to the knowledge that you'll be back in the garden next month, pulling up weeds again. Not all of the weeds come back, though, and even the ones that come back are slowed down by your efforts. I often have a resolution about getting in shape. I have yet to turn myself into a lean, mean, triathelete. But because I keep trying to uproot the slothful weed, I have also yet to turn myself into a complete marshmallow of a couch potato, either.

The easiest way to keep the weeds under control may be to plant more "real plants", to out-compete the weeds. But of course, that requires deciding what plants you want, and there are limits to the number of plants any garden can support. Maybe this year, I'll plant a more serious yoga practice. I think it will help fight the weeds of impatience and short-temperedness, which are constant problems for me. And I should definitely carve out some more time for my husband, to keep the weed of complacency at bay.

I don't have an actual resolutions list yet. Maybe I won't ever have a true list, but will settle for some intentions about which sorts of weeds I want to tackle first. Really, there are more things I could work on than I could hope to tackle this year. But that is the great thing about this endeavor. It doesn't really matter where you start weeding, as long as you start- and keep going. 


  1. Nicely put!

  2. Love it. I read an article about people and emotions and metaphors. Something about an experiment where holding a hot cup of coffee will make a person more inclined to think better of a person in a photo because "warm heart" is signaled with the heat from the cup. I like the visual of grasping and pulling out the "weeds". I just did a 20 minute workout I found on cable. Not at all my preferred method of exercising but a start is a start and I've at least tugged on the lazy weed this morning!

  3. Wow, this is a fantastic metaphor. I think I have a tendency for things that I've planted to start taking over. Or possibly just in a serious "avoidance of real life" phase.

  4. I think I shall resolve to think of chocolate as a good plant and not a weed.

  5. Nice post, Cloud. You're so very right.

    In 2010 I kicked my longest and most bothersome habit ever. It's embarassing. I was a nail biter. At 33 years old I still had not been able to quit that habit. I don't know why it was so hard. I had tried over and over again my entire adult life. That weed had some damn deep and strong roots. But you know what it was that did it? It was Rosie. She resolved to stop sucking her thumb and she just DID it. She's three, and she did better than me. So I was inspired by the resolve of my three year old daughter and I did it too.

    And speaking of weeding, I'm over-the-top jealous that you were weeding your garden in the middle of winter. My yard is covered in 2 feet of snow. Along the sides of the driveway it's about 5 feet deep due to the shoveling pile. I miss gardening. Even the weeding.

  6. Love it! I typically make some kind of resolution list, but this year with a new baby on the way I've resolved not to make a list and to just "survive" until 2012!

  7. I love analogies! Especially really good ones! You have permanently shifted my thinking on breaking old and/or bad habits and creating new ones.

    And I'm not sure whether or not I'm jealous that you're weeding in January.

  8. I love it! Good analogy. Thanks for putting your thoughts on this out on the interwebs!

  9. What @nej said! ;)


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