The plants with little seed puffs are weeds. When they were in bloom they were actually quite pretty, but they’re not something I want taking over the garden, so I’m getting rid of them. One summer a neighbor found me laboriously digging dandelions out of the lawn. I told her I was harvesting them. She asked if was making wine out of them and I said “No, I’m making compost.” I had no illusions about hundreds of dandelions popping up in the lawn next spring, and the truth is that I love that carpet of golden yellow when they are in bloom. I had no intention of obliterating them, I just wanted to keep them from taking over. All of this puts me in mind of time.
We make a lot of trouble for ourselves by failing to distinguish between chronological time and psychological time. Our psycho-time causes us to worry about what might happen and cook up agendas that often just lead to disappointment. We get to thinking we should have a purpose to what we do, but a purpose demands a result and a result takes time. When I’m weeding, I don’t have any sense of purpose and come to think of it, no sense of time. And it is remarkably satisfying to be in this intimate, purposeless relationship with growing things. The weeds don’t have any sense that next spring they will again push through the soil in search of the sun. They’ve died and have no idea that they’ll be resurrected.
You might think it rather pointless to work at all this weeding with no expectation of getting rid of the weeds once and for all. But having an agenda of obliterating them–what Daniel Quinn calls Totalitarian Agriculture–is for me only destructive. It would imprison me in a psycho-time cycle of work, expectation and frustration.
I have no idea whether my efforts are doing anything to improve the health of the bio-mass at large. I only hope to curb aggression and encourage the ivy growing here, which is quite lovely. We can trace it back to my wife’s grandmother in Massachusetts. It then traveled to New Jersey where we met and married, and some cuttings were brought to our home back in Massachusetts. I suppose it was originally planted by God, and the responsibility seems to have come to us to encourage it.