It may sound strange, but I love to weed. As a young person, I spent countless hours pulling weeds in the humongous kitchen garden we planted every year. That kind of experience would traumatize most people and put them off weeding for life, but it instilled in me a profound love.
In part, I love to weed because it takes me back to the cool, dew-drenched mornings and hazy, sun-drenched afternoons of my childhood. It reminds me of long hours spent in companionable silence or lively chatter, working beside a number of family members in various times and places.
But there’s something else about weeding that appeals to me on a deeper level, something in it that soothes my soul. It’s a form of moving meditation: active enough to keep my monkey mind occupied, repetitious and methodical enough to allow me to slip into a sort of trance.
I also find weeding very satisfying, in more than one way. It offers the cathartic effects of physical labor coupled with the psychological pleasure of tangible progress. I feel as ridiculously edified by aching muscles as I do by neat planting beds. And I feel peaceful, on top of the exhaustion and pride. What’s not to like?
Up until this last week, I haven’t been able to weed because it’s been so dry. Where I live, there used to be a foot or so of rich topsoil, an accumulation of thousands of years of decayed plant and animal matter. A couple decades ago, a developer scraped it off, sold it, and built houses and laid sod on the remaining clay subsoil. So my garden beds are built on and out of clay.
When clay gets dry, it becomes the kind of material that people have been building houses out of for millennia. Roots sunk into dry clay cannot be removed by pulling; it is impervious to most hand tools in that state, even my trusty hori-hori.
So I am woefully behind on the weeding, and I don’t think the neighbors are happy about it.
I wrote the above paragraphs last week, before we got some much-needed rain. I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to get in a little weeding since, though we were away for three days of prime yard working time over the weekend. I’m still behind, but most of the really big weeds have been removed. Now the yard merely looks unkempt instead of overgrown.