I love a good weed. It’s when I feel that I am most in my head, when I do my best thinking, when my imagination wanders up and down and sideways.
That’s the way it was this weekend when I knelt down to begin weeding the bed that’s wedged between a blue stone patio and a row of white pines growing in a bed of ivy behind a low stone wall. In truth, I began working on this bed weeks ago, when I cleaned it, weeded it, and planted the Gomphrena “Strawberry Fields” that I had started from seed.
And that’s where the work ended. Now all I see is the Gomphrena swallowed up by a new flush of weeds because I never had the chance or the time to place mulch. It’s uncanny how the driest stretch of my yard, heated by the surrounding stonework, is the perfect home for weeds.
As I pulled and yanked, my green world became black and white and I imagined myself in a 1940s film noir flick. In it, I’m in a chair, a beam of light aimed at me and throwing the far corners of the room into shadows. There’s a detective hovering above me, hair slicked back, hands on his waste so I can see his gun holstered under his jacket.
“You call yourself a gardener?” That’s his opening shot. He must be the bad cop. Where’s the good cop, sitting behind that mirror, listening to my confession?
“You’ve got nothing on me,” I say.
“You’re a slick flatfoot,” I offer, mixing in some ’40s slang because, well, this is my imagination and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with the proof that’s before me. “I have my reasons.”
Reasons? Maybe it was my intent to have weeds mingling with my plants because not all weeds are harmful. According to my local Cooperative Extension, the long tap root of dandelions can help break up hard soils and bring nutrients up from the deep. Clover and vetch, meanwhile, are a natural fertilizer with nitrogen-fixing abilities. I tried to explain this to the copper, but he heard the hesitancy in my voice.
“That would be nice,” he said, and then leaned in so I could feel the heat of his breath, “but all you had was crabgrass.”
“Fine,” I conceded. “I ran out of time. Is that what you want to hear?”
“Save it for the judge, brother. When the jury is finished with you, time is what you’ll have plenty of.”
Defeated, I sunk into my chair and looked about. Color returned to my world, and in the time of my imaginary movie, I had successfully removed the weeds from the bed. All that’s left to do was plant the Zinnias and Cannas and – of course – apply mulch. But the sun was setting and the next day was already taken up with bagpiping in a parade.
Something tells me I’m going to be talking to this cop again – real soon.