Gardening Like Amelia Bedelia

The furry little foxtails were waving in the wind, the fescue was flourishing, and the brome was nearly knee-high. Even in this hot, dry summer, some of the grass in the front yard has been thriving. This might have made me proud, except for the embarrassing little detail that the grass in question was in the garden instead of the lawn.

Finally, I decided to take drastic measures. For the first time all summer, I weeded the garden. Sitting on the cool, damp ground was actually a pleasant way to spend an evening. While my hands were busy yanking clumps of grass (not to mention dandelions, creeping Jenny, and the occasional thistle) out of the soil, my mind was free to wander.

It occurred to me first that I wasn't really "weeding" the garden so much as "grassing" it. Then, of course, I realized what I was doing was actually "ungrassing" or "degrassing."

That little digression opened the door for my inner word nerd, who wanted to know why we call it "weeding" when it's really "unweeding." After all, when we plant, water, or fertilize the garden, we're putting in, not taking out. Therefore, a nitpicky sort of person—an editor, say, with too much time to think—might point out that "weeding," strictly speaking, would be adding thistles rather than removing them.

No wonder my favorite character from children's literature is Amelia Bedelia, featured in a series of books begun by Peggy Parish and continued by Herman Parish. She's a housekeeper whose literal mind causes all sorts of difficulties. Just following directions, she dutifully does things like dust the furniture by sprinkling it with dusting powder, make a sponge cake with real sponges, and dress a chicken for dinner by putting it into an elegant little suit. And yes, she weeds the garden by planting dandelions. Her employers learn to be very clear in their instructions.

Taking her as my inspiration, I'll be prepared the next time anyone comments on my messy garden. "Yes," I'll say, "It's certainly nicely weeded, isn't it?"

Amelia Bedelia would be proud.

Categories: Words for Nerds | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Gardening Like Amelia Bedelia

  1. Frank

    Despite the heat and prolonged dry spell, Ginny weeds her garden. She seems to like to pull weeds. If I can’t rid an area of weeds with a machine, tough. I never heard of Amelia Bedelia and hope to find it in our library tomorrow.

  2. Frank

    Despite the heat and prolonged dry spell, Ginny weeds her garden. She seems to like to pull weeds. If I can’t rid an area of weeds with a machine, tough. I never heard of Amelia Bedelia and hope to find it in our library tomorrow.

  3. Kathleen

    I hate weeding, so usually I use mulch instead. This year I never got around to mulching, though, which is why I had grass taller than my tomato plants.

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