My summer morning ritual requires that I walk around my gardens to see what’s blooming, inspect plants, dead head, pull up small weeds, and water the containers. So most of my flower gardens stay in good condition. On the other side of the garage, though, is a strawberry and herb bed that I don’t often visit. When I do look at it, I shrug and walk away thinking ‘maybe tomorrow.’ Walk away, that is, until the bed gets unbearably overgrown, which equates to about three weeding sessions a year. Today was one of those days.

The horsetail fleabane was covering sections of the gravel driveway next to the strawberry bed. This area was where the old boat sat, so there was a reason for its neglect. This early in the morning the temperature was pleasant and it seemed a good time to do the chore. Besides I was painting today and wanted to put that chore off. “I’ll just pull up the tall weeds so it doesn’t look so shabby,” I told myself. I started pulling the tall, unwanted stalks. This type of weeding takes little thought. A half hour later I had most of the unwanted stuff pulled out and told myself I’d Roundup the low growers later.

Then, because it was only inches away, I started on the strawberry bed. Sheep sorrel, carpetweed, veronica, purslane, spurge, and grasses grew thick between the strawberry leaves. It meant carefully selecting the plants needing pulled and grabbing them right at the base of the stems before ripping them from the soil. It takes time and concentration. Focusing on the project emptied my mind of all other concerns. Soon my eyes began to recognize the plants to pull, and my fingers followed my eyes command. Minutes pass in silence and completely calm weeding meditation. It was relaxing.

Then, because everything was so automatic, my mind began to wander. Thoughts about my investigation of plant intelligence surfaced. Are these plants screaming to others in the area by emitting distress volatile chemicals into the air? I can hear them: Beware! Plant killer at large! But I rationalize, we need to eat. Then, the cliché only the strong survive springs to mind. But the weeds are the fittest, and I’m pulling them out, except wild strawberries are hardy, too, if I wanted 1/4″ sized berries. And then, oh my, this soil is quite dry. I really need to water. These stray thoughts flitter in an out followed by other flights of fantasy, like how many thousands of years have men and women performed this chore? This leads to other related and non-related subjects, which goes so far as to touch on slavery and even the Holocaust. Don’t ask.

By now the mindless work has become drudgery. I’m bending, knelling, pulling, crawling, standing, and throwing weeds into piles on the strawberry bed’s edges. Sweat drips down my face. I notice I’m nearing the end with relief. My back and shoulders will feel this tomorrow, but in this minute I have a great sense of contentment. This is the third time this summer I’ve weeded this bed. Three’s the charm.

Looking around I realize the bed needs reorganizing. I should replant it with easily accessible aisles and mulch it, and I really have to remember to water more if I want a good spring crop of berries. Should I move the bed over to the larger vegetable garden, and turn this one into an herbs only area? Oh dear, I’m thinking up more work already.

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