Don’t Judge a Flower by Its Dirt

dscn0371There was something familiar about contemplating my weed to grass ratio last week. I sat on the front step and let my mind wander. It drifted all the way back, to a year in the late ‘60s. My best friend and I were young girls playing down at the ditch.

Anyone from my old neighborhood knows what I mean by the ditch. It was a stretch of land outlined by the street on one side, the railroad tracks on the other.  It was our playground, wilderness, bicycle course, sledding hill, place of all dares real and imagined. It was our turf.

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One lazy spring day, the kind that makes you think summer is here to stay, I sat with my playmate watching the clouds.  We contemplated the kind of reasoning that 9 year-olds will. Our attention was drawn to the petals dancing in the breeze. We knew what our moms grew were flowers. We also knew if either of our moms had seen any of these in the yard, they would be deemed weeds and promptly uprooted.

And so our analysis began. Who exactly determined a blossom was a flower or a weed? We both agreed the blooms around us were just as delicate, vibrant and fragrant as any daffodil at home. Children of our age understood well the injustice of social divisions. How sad for the weeds that they cannot be showcased in a garden. How sad for the flowers in the garden that they cannot mingle with the grasses in the field.

dscn0390We embarked, that day, on the creation of our first garden. Right there in our wilderness we churned the earth with borrowed tools. We plotted, envisioned, transplanted and dreamed our weed garden into existence. We irrigated with water hauled in pails from home almost a block away. As I remember, the plants responded to the care we gave. We were proud and diligent until childhood distractions lured us away.

Maybe we were just children of the ’60s. Or maybe some lifelong morals were instilled out under the sun that summer.  All I know is that I still believe in the childhood convictions we committed to so many years ago.

  • Don’t judge a flower by its dirt.
  • Living things, given a little water and fresh air, flourish.
  • Mingle with the grasses.
  • Dandelions are pretty too.
  • If you are a weed in a flower garden, get a good deep root and just keep popping up.
  • Summer is never here to stay.

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Photos were taken at Como Park, St. Paul, Minnesota

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Judge a Flower by Its Dirt

  1. mary

    Beautiful post Jean. I was thinking along similoar lines this morning when my mom and I walked over a baseball diamond and onto red.leaved crab grass that had completely taken over a park. I looked down on what we were treading on and saw beautiful small leaves like the color of sumac in the fall. Beautiful. And I thought of how so many people spend money and place countless chemicals into their lawns to rid their lives of a “weed” when in reality, the weed covered lawn is soft, expansive, cheap, low maintenance and now with these cool nights, colorful. I remember in one horticulture class, a teacher said “A weed is only a highly developed, yet undesirable plant……and in the wrong place.” Keep writing. I love it!!!

  2. I was sat in my allotment at the weekend thinking along these lines. I used to pull up any weeds that appeared in my garden or allotment until about a year ago when I bought a couple of tortoises. They love to eat weeds so I started to cultivate them to feed to the little fellas. I’ve been amazed by how pretty some of the flowers are and how much the bees and butterflies love the weeds!

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