A Plant Where It Is Not Wanted
From my experience of spring, Pennsylvania languidly slides from winter to spring to summer—three distinct seasons. Indiana’s muted winter brings an endless spring of blooming and blossoming. Door County circles in an endless gray, listlessness which encompasses March, April, and most of May. But then, like an aerial firework, spring literally explodes.
It rained here a lot over the weekend. With the rain came an abundance of green. Green grass. Green shrubs. Green buds on greening trees. What had been deathly gray on Friday has suddenly burst with deep kelly green. Along with the green, dandelions have rooted, sprouted, and yellowed entire fields and lawns.
Dandelions take me back to Broad St. in Emmaus. Our neighbor, Pappy Schaefer kept an immaculate lawn. I don’t know Pappy Schaefer’s real name, but I know that he hated anything not green marring his immaculate lawn. This included very white wiffle balls that would occasionally cross the fence. With a scowl and Pennsylvania German cursing he would return the errant offender…or not. More than his scowl or the curse words, I was frightened at the prospect of getting caught on his side of the fence should I have to go and get a ball.
Pappy Schaefer had an ancient dandelion remover with which he attacked dandelions—and perhaps young children retrieving wiffle balls in his yard. He would gouge the earth, heartlessly wrestling the insulting weed from his sight.
[In all fairness, Pappy Schaefer was probably a great guy. I would not doubt it if he stormed the beaches in Normandy. He worked hard at his day job. He worked hard at keeping his lawn green and crisply cut. Still, he terrified me.]
I’ve often wondered which council was granted the ability to decree weed from not weed. Why is one species of springtime plant desirable, while others are mercilessly slaughtered with spade and RoundUp? Why do we prefer one over the other? How do we choose one over the other? Why not scorch the trillium and let the dandelion thrive?
I found this description of a weed: a weed is a plant growing where it is not wanted. The nature of a weed—what is wanted or not wanted—dwells not within the plant, but the one who looks upon the plant. Some plants may benefit the Creation more than others. Some may do more harm than good. Equally, the difference between a weed and a plant lies within us.
Three years ago, in Ahuas, Honduras, I let myself into a fenced off area by the director’s house (Ahuas is a medical clinic run by the Moravian Church). Even as an adult, I paused to ensure that Pappy Schaefer was not watching me from his back porch. To my delight, as I learned later, one of the missionaries at the clinic planted a flower garden…and here surrounded by a fence and a hospital and a province of scrub brush bloomed beautiful Honduran flowers.
I decided then—and it bears reminding now—that the world is filled with precious things striving, thriving, blooming, and blossoming. Beautiful flowers blossom. Beautiful weeds thrive. Beautiful people, especially people like Pappy Schaefer, strive and bloom if given the chance.
If given the chance…
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.