Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wild Tiger Lilies
Weed: n. A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially, one growing where it is not wanted in cultivated ground.

Weeds make a good metaphor for “undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome” parts of our lives.
Consider, for example, a broken ankle. Or, if you prefer, a sprained wrist. Nothing too terribly disabling, but definitely undesirable, and probably unattractive (my wrapped ankle looked twice its normal size), and thoroughly troublesome (hopping is a darned slow way to get anywhere).
Something less physical? Okay, how about a too-full calendar, making it difficult to find wiggle-room in your busy life?
Or an unexpected happening—emergency surgery for appendicitis, sudden death of someone you know well, storm damage to your school/church/home?
Every community has a business that specializes in weed control or weed eradication. They come in, and, for a generous donation from your bank account, wave their poisonous wands, and your lawn is—or will become—weed-free.
Don’t get me wrong—I love seeing my green grass uncluttered by dandelions in various stages of undress or clover creeping from corner to corner. Beautiful as these weeds are, they attract bees, and bees seem to like me more than I like them.
But I do wish I could like weeds. Along the roadside as I drive to Fort Wayne, I see fields of mustard, long swaths of chicory, clumps of tiger lilies, trumpet vine doing its invasive thing on somebody’s old shed. I actually love Queen Anne’s Lace and wild purple coneflowers. And sunflowers, wild or domestic, always make me smile. Maybe their distance from my life as they flourish along the highway makes them more acceptable.
I’m not crazy about the weed metaphor in my life. I can’t hire somebody to come in and spray chemicals on my life to remove all the physical, mental, emotional, and psychic problems and frustrations that assail me. But after all, I’ve learned, they’re part of Life.

Chicory--great in coffee
If we look at the upside of weeds (I assure you there is one, for at least some of the weeds), we can see they may have positive uses.
Did you know:
·         Wild mustard is edible?
·         Chicory root dried and ground makes a coffee substitute? Or added to ground coffee, makes the signature chicory-coffee of New Orleans?
·         Red clover can be extracted into an herbal remedy? (Also bees love red clover, and help themselves to the nectar for later transformation into honey.)
·         Queen Anne’s Lace is also called wild carrot, and parts of the plant are edible?
Queen Anne's Lace
·         Dandelion leaves, snipped early in spring and wilted in vinegar and bacon drippings, are tender and sweet?
·         Dandelion leaves after maturing making a wonderful salve to use for itching insect bites?
·         Sunflower seeds feed birds?
So far I’ve not found anything edible about wild tiger lilies or trumpet vine, though both are lovely to look at. Maybe that's their reason for being, to add beauty to our lives.
Red Clover
Consider the places where weeds literally grow: along the roadside, in abandoned fields and yards, in gardens (flower or vegetable). My Grandpa Jenkins must have spent a lot of time and energy keeping his humongous garden clear of weeds so the vegetables could grow and mature. As big as the garden was, he used a hand-plow, walking behind it and pushing it between the rows. His big straw hat kept his head cool. Weed control had to be a never-ending process.
Weeds in our lives may be less visible. Bad habits, neglect, lack of consideration for another . . . we don’t want these characteristics, but they may be lurking in an abandoned corner of our lives.
Too bad personal weeds aren’t as readily seen as roadside weeds.

Do you have weeds in your life? Are they poisonous? Or merely irritating? Do they cause you to be less than the person you were meant to be?
Weeds. They’re everywhere.
[PS—For anyone who’s interested, my car needed a left front wheel bearing and is now a happy auto. As am I. Thanks for asking.]


Trumpet Vine - offering a sip to a


  1. Love your pictures. I didn't know that purple flower was chicory. Being a complete country mouse, I never think of wildflowers as weeds even though they are. And probably the metaphorical weeds are the same way--important to me and with their own beauty. Pollyanna signing off! :-)

  2. I'm with you on the wildflowers vs. weeds issue--to me they're all beautiful and lend color to an otherwise monotonous landscape. I'll probably get all kinds of abuse over the word monotonous, but to me, something that's all green can be pretty blah. I know there are lots of different greens, and they are each lovely; but the colorful wildflowers and weeds remind me of beauty to be found everywhere. Maybe they're only weeds when they show up in the crop fields!