I’m not a dedicated landscaper or lawn manicurist. Far from it. I think the whole “water the grass so it will grow better so you can mow it more often” process lacks a certain logic.
But I hate thistles. When they invade the lawn or creep into the garden or establish themselves in sneaky clumps behind the wood pile, I take it as a personal affront.
So last week I declared war on thistles. Armed with a hoe, a dull butcher knife, and a sturdy pair of leather gloves, I sallied forth to battle the invading hordes.
First I took the hoe to the bunch of thistles at the edge of the driveway that had managed to survive almost to maturity by cleverly camouflaging themselves in a patch of tall grass. Then I moved on to the sneaky little thistles hiding behind the bushes at the front of the house. I stabbed the dirt around them with my knife to loosen it, then tore them out of the ground one at a time with my gloved hands. I moved along behind the bushes, crouched, knife at the ready, alert for even the smallest and most innocent-appearing baby thistle.
Once those had been annihilated, I marched across the front yard, hoe in one hand and knife in the other. My target was the edge of the slope marking the beginning of the area we leave to grow wild. I had spotted a row of the enemy there, hiding in the grass. I hacked away with my hoe, intent on ridding the yard of pestilential plants.
As I wreaked devastation along the row of thistles, I happened to look up for a moment. And for the first time, I noticed the flowers. Pale pinkish-violet coneflowers. Yellow clover. Delicate pink wild roses. At least two more varieties of yellow flowers and three of purple that I had no idea of the names of.
The unmowed half of the front yard was a lush garden of wildflowers among the abundant grass. I had been so focused on the thistles that I hadn’t even seen the flowers.
Well, I’m smart enough to recognize a heavy-handed metaphor when it whacks me upside the head. So I chuckled at myself for a minute while I stood there and admired the flowers. Then, my senses soothed and my spirit refreshed, I put down my hoe.
I grabbed the knife instead. With renewed vigor, I attacked the last bunch of thistles. After all, if I want to keep enjoying the flowers, I’d better not let the thistles crowd them out.