The Call of the Weeds

With great apologies to Jack London …

A border collie-pit bull mix once lived with me. On my deathbed, I’ll fondly remember the first time she “alerted.” She had caught me sorting out the freshly laundered whites. She turned her intense gaze towards one of my hands as I fished out a sock from the laundry basket. Then she looked at my other hand holding the pair. Back and forth she watched me, as I paired socks and folded towels. Once I realized that she was helping me sort the laundry, I started to tease her by retrieving and returning laundry items in a silly pattern.

So it seemed our dog couldn’t resist the urge to sort things out and keep things in order, especially white things à la flock of sheep, perhaps?

Such is my irresistible urge to prune dead branches and yank up weeds. Call it the call of the weeds. Even if the weeds are almost my (short) height …


Lamentably, these weeds aren’t edible. That is, I haven’t decided to forage the leaves, stems, or roots. Don’t even know their Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, or Species.

Next Week’s Weed Challenge

Should I rein in the stinging nettle, inedible weeds, and dandelion that have reached almost the height of a sunken derelict house? These green monsters are certainly taller than I am. But maybe I should leave a little rinconcito for the hummingbirds who might have their nests there. Si (rhymes with “eye”) the Feral Cat might hang out there. Some critter that leaves little oblong poops––a vole, maybe?––certainly travels through there. Perhaps these caquitas are actually shriveled up earthworms that have drowned in the much-needed but too-intense rains.

Since I haven’t done my duly diligent research on their holistic health remedies, I’m not ready to harvest the stinging nettle. They are all so green. I’m looking forward to the little game I play with these prolific plants: grab them by the base, don’t touch the leaves, don’t let the leaves brush against my work clothes, push ’em into the bin head first to minimize the spread of their seeds, and (this takes the most effort) avoid pushing back my eyeglasses or stray hair strands! Etiquette professes: “No matter how much it itches, don’t scratch!”

Then again, perhaps these nettles are trying to imbibe me with their medicine, no matter how great a barrier I think I’m constructing. Perhaps I owe my continued life, so far, to these little and not so little monsters. (With great apologies to Lady Gaga!)


Where the Wild Things Grow …


Foraging is not yet my forte!

Calling all community gardeners and other compañerxs:  Do you have a “go to” website or free laboratory for plant identification?  I’m trying to confirm this bush with dark purple berries is Solanum americanum.  A local freelance handyperson/landscaper assures me this is “tomatillo del monte,” an edible.  “Green Deane” on the webpage Eat the Weeds–And Other Things, Too gives some background, along with many, many caveats.

On reflection, this wild thing might have tried growing in other places I’ve lived.  But, I saw it as a weed that would stifle my preferred plants.  So this plant was yanked out as soon as it was noticed.  My ignorance brought its expedient eradication.

Now the land seems to be offering me a chance to reframe my view.  This wild thing camouflaged itself amongst the unruly hedge––hiding in plain sight––until it was too large to ignore.  Too big to fail.  But can it co-occupy without taking over and rubbing out whatever needs to grow in that spot?  How can I know what should grow where and when, or what makes something invasive and non-native?

Brings to mind the many struggles with gentrification.  Communities experience change, where the benefits of the changes are often enjoyed disproportionately by new arrivals, while the established residents find themselves economically and socially marginalized.  Be-fore gentrification, we need to be-for the people.  Some say first was the the word, some say first was the light.  Some say the land was here first and, notwithstanding the people’s efforts to destroy it, the land will remain.  Take care of the land, cuida la gente. The land sufficeth all things above all things, and no thing, or in whatever lies between these things but the land sufficeth.  The land is the knower, the omnipotent, the sustainer.


Tinkering (aka Thinkering?)

Tinkering Kit c/o Katydid
Tinkering Kit c/o Katydid

Recently came across this lovely site that reminded me of Gever Tulley’s Tinkering School.  You’re invited to listen/read the NPR podcast on Tinkering

I may have been a “boring and dull child” but think I’m still curious, if not a curiosity.