Thursday, August 19, 2010

going to seed

what i like about mowing the lawn is that it is like vacuuming a really dirty rug.  there's the before and after picture that is rewarding.  it's the "i did that" feeling especially since the lawn doesn't get mowed as often as some other lawns i could talk about.  other than that- i like little else about lawn mowing.  i do it mostly to keep the weeds from going to seed, and i do that mostly from peer pressure from neighbors.  silent peer pressure peppered with coy remarks that are encoded with the message: mow your lawn!

we have several lawn mowers- funny, i know.  i typically use the basic push mower.  the engine exhaust blows out in front or maybe it's the wind from the turn of the blades that causes the blades in front of me to quiver a bit.  this at least gives the moths and frogs warning enough, or so i tell myself.  when i find frogs i move them to the un-mow-able parts of the lawn and i apologize to them silently.  not sure they understand why my neighbor's opinions are have more weight than there's.  i don't entirely get this either.  yes, so we have some well rooted resident weed colonies in our half-acre chunk of land.  let me introduce you to them.

buttercup.  pretty delicate yellow flowers that grow in clumps, mostly in soggy ground.  rumor has it if you eat enough of these they will poison you.  i have no beef with buttercups.  sometimes i sing to little buttercup has the sweetest smile.

dandelion. you know these guys.  they amaze me with their speed of reincarnation.  i can mow them and almost watch them push up new blossoms within 2 days.  you can make wine from them and some documentary once told me their milk can be made into rubber.  they is dandy, me thinks.

morning glory, aka bind weed.  she's a beauty with a tad bit too much ambition.  if she could just leave well enough alone- but no.  she wants more, more, that billy idol song.  i weed whack her regularly because she kills everything she touches.  typical femme fatal.

thistle.  how many cries have erupted after tromping barefoot on these bristly bad boys?  so many.  the first year we lived here i would always forget to wear shoes outside and then be stuck amidst a mine field of thorns.  the next year i bought a specially designed tool, now since lost by boys using it as weapon, that popped them up.  you need gloves -thick ones- to handle all but the smallest of thistle babes.  the stocks are woody and sometimes i have to use the big loppers to snip them off.  they require the most gear, the special tools and these disappear regularly, so the thistles that manage to sprout where the mower cannot reach have the best chance of making it to their goal: going to seed.

but here's my confession about thistles.  as they mature into full-thorned mamas, i find them alluring.  their feathery purple blooms that pop out atop that green head. the angles of their leaves and the white needles gleaming.  their indestructible seeds that love your compost pile.  they are worthy of worship as is their cousin, the glorious artichoke.

today during nap time i wandered outside.  i surveyed my very small garden and the army of volunteer weedy soldiers and noticed, both sheepishly and a bit gleefully, that some thistles were blooming. ( in the background i could hear my neighbor mowing her lawn.  i felt her looking my way, i think.)   the proverbial angel and devil materialized on my shoulder but they couldn't figure out what action they were routing for.  the angel liked the look of the thistle but wanted the approval of the neighbor.  the devil grinned at the teeth-like needles but kinda wanted to see the thistle chopped down just to witness some destruction.

as i stood there a bee came and landed on the thistle top.  the bee was joined by another and they milled about, got loaded up with thistle pollen powder then flew off.  i know that this means the thistle could go to seed, but more importantly to me- it means that the bees got fed!  they got some nice organic thistle lovin and they are probably sharing the booty right now with the hive.  unpacking their pollen pouches saying, "man, check this out!  i got the rare pure dust this time!"

bees really need flower loving that has not been sprayed with pesticides.  ever hear about colony collapse?  well, turns out...big surprise here...that the toxins from flowers wind up in the bees wax where baby bee larvae live.  toxin cribs cause damage and a whole generation of bees die.   the painful irony of this is almost cartoonish in nature.  we want pretty flowers so we spray this crap on it to kill off the bad bugs.  maybe we even want pretty flowers cuz we like bees a bit..who knows.  but our spray kills off the bees and so the flowers don't get pollinated and then the flowers don't go to seed.  we can easily spiral off of that sad reality to what this does to fruits trees, squash, tomatoes- all the goodies we eat thanks to the bees' hard work.

i get that all little bugs have a purpose and that taking one being out of an ecosystem screws up the whole thing- so i hesitate to elevate bees to a position of more importance than say, dung beetles, but really - if there is one insect that we should respect- if not outright worship!- IT IS THE BEES!  so for now- let the thistles bloom, damn it!  i'll cut off their heads after the bees have dusted themselves up good.

or maybe this year i'll let the thistles go to seed.


  1. HONEY bees. Not those yellow jacket bastards. They are the hoodlums of the bee universe.

  2. "i got the rare purple dust this time!" love it, just one of many LOL moments here. We like thistles too. One regal stand of them blooms to the right of the driveway. i've been tempted to eradicate it, but after this, no no no, long live our thistle ...

  3. i hated the morning glory so much! but then i saw a tiny little frog inside one of the blossoms in my garden. it was a true kodak moment, and i grew soft in my heart for that weedy opportunist.