Sunday, September 30, 2012

Live and Let Clover

Over the years, I’ve come to adopt a “Live and Let Clover” sort of philosophy about my yard, for a variety of reasons.  For one, it’s easy.  Who has time for a meticulously-manicured lawn when there are little children in the house?  Two, I truly love clover, and so do the bees.   I’m so concerned about the status of our honeybees that I’m happy to host whatever makes them happy.  In fact, the bees in my yard and I have an agreement.  I promise not to prune away the bright flowers they love so much, and they agree to leave me alone when I’m working in their space.  It’s an agreement that works for all of us.  Three, if a different strain of grass blows in that is more resilient than what we’ve planted, then I say WELCOME!  It’s the survival of the fittest in action. 

Last, and most recently, I’ve been pondering: who am I to say what can live?  It’s Nature, that’s the domain of God, Great Spirit, Creator.  I may choose to do some planting in my yard, but it’s up to the Master Gardener to determine what lives and thrives.  And  Nature thrives on diversity.  If a volunteer pops up, then it’s the divine spark of Creation, and I intend to honor it.

And yet today, when I saw just how many volunteers of a certain variety were thriving in my lawn, I admit that I felt the urge to purge.  A tangle of assortment of sweet clover, grasses and grass-like weeds is one thing.  A lawn full of dandelions is another. 

So today, I attacked the dandelion patch with a digger, working diligently, pulling out as much of the root as possible, and meticulously, not allowing a single seedling left intact.  I felt a real sense of accomplishment when the entire patch was eradicated. It’s a metaphor, I thought, pulling the weeds out of the garden on the day of the full moon; it’s is symbolic for all of the things I’m releasing.

It was only when I went to put the digger away that I discovered the even bigger patch on the other side of the yard.  How had this escaped my attention?  How naïve was I to think that even my small lawn could be so easily eradicated of a most successful and well-adapted weed as the dandelion!

I considered whether to begin work again or to Live and Let Dandelion.  What is it about dandelions that offends me anyway, I wondered.  Dandelion greens are nutritious, the greens being rich in Vitamin A, C and calcium.  It is used in herbal medicine to treat infections. It’s an ingredient in real root beer.  Despite its serrated leaves, dandelion leaves are soft on bare feet.  The pretty yellow flowers are sweet and cheerful. 

And yet there’s just something about dandelions that shrieks WEED, and a yard full of the quintessential weed symbolizes inattention and neglect.  I sat down to work again, this time asking the dandelions what they have to teach me.  “Discernment” is what I heard.  It’s not about passing judgment on poor old dandelion, but discernment to choose what is pleasing and root out what is not, to ask for what I want, instead of taking whatever comes along.  We come into with desires and preferences for a reason.  They guide us into action and steer us from disasters. 

The dandelions say they are here to serve, giving us the opportunity to practice discernment right in our own front yards.  They aren’t like some stealthy pests, which hide in the dark recesses.  Dandelions sprout up right out in the open, popping up their poufy white seed clouds bright, unmistakable blooms as if to say, “here I am!  Look a me!  Whatcha gonna do about it?” Left to their own devices, they thrive.  Subjected to our weeding, they succumb to the digger.  It’s all up to the gardener.  Do they stay or do they go? 

So I dug up dandelion plants until time to cook dinner, and then I went inside the house, willing myself not to look for more dandelions on the way inside.  I know, however, there are more out there, and that’s suddenly quite all right with me.  Truthfully, I like their cheerful little flowers.  Maybe I will even cook up some of those greens one of these days.  And when I again want to practice discernment, when I feel the urge to purge, I know the resilient survivors will be there, ready and cheerfully waiting.

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