I am excited about the prospect of developing a green thumb. Many people find gardening relaxing and an outlet for their creativity and this appeals to me. I am keen to grow some of my own fruits and vegetables since organic produce at the supermarket is expensive. I bought a how-to-start-a-veggie-patch book in French so I could kill two birds with one stone. A friend gave us a lawnmower and I bought gardening gloves for Al, Megan and me. Al bought a chainsaw to trim the hedge. I still need to arrange a rake and a garden shed for storage but, other than this, we are all set.
This is the first time I have had a garden of my own to manage. I didn’t realise it would be so much work.
In French, weeds are called les mauvaises herbes, which means ‘bad grass’. The first step seemed to be to get rid of the bad grass before I could focus on the good stuff, such as organising my veggie patch or planting new shrubs or watering the lawn.
This weekend, I rolled up my sleeves, put on my gardening gloves and I started weeding. I want to annihilate all weeds before winter so that when spring comes, we can hit the ground running with the more fun, creative stuff.
There are a lot of weeds because the old owners lost motivation once they sold the place. It took me forever and I am still not finished. At frequent intervals, I stood up and stretched out my crooked back and wondered how much longer it would take. Weeding is the pits primarily because you need a lot of muscle power and brut force to yank out the weed from the root. Often the weeds were entwined around the grass so I had to be clever about how I untangled and then pulled them without bringing the fluffy green lawn along too.
I think gardening is similar to fishing. It is time-intensive and the solitude is an opportunity to contemplate deep things, such as the meaning of life.
As I was weeding, I ruminated on how my garden reminds me a lot of the inside of my head. I have a lot of foliage up there. Some of it is well tamed, such as the lawn. The lawn in my head is soft, green and fluffy. It’s the good stuff and is worth keeping. It is all the thoughts that are positive and uplifting. I like to lie on my back and starfish out on the grass in my head. It is the self-talk that builds me up and energizes me.
Interspersed among the green lawn, good-quality shrubs and the pretty flowers in my head, there are some weeds. These are my negative thoughts. They are my bad grass, my mauvaises herbes. They are a problem and must be eliminated. In some people, these weeds in the head are the what-ifs and if-onlys. Thank God I have very few if-onlys these days. My weeds are predominantly fears and, like the weeds in my garden, can get out of hand.
My anxieties grew wilder after Megan was born because I started to fear all sorts of things I never bothered about before such as her safety and health and life happiness and things that are mostly beyond my control. I fear something happening to separate me from my little poppet and that undercurrent of anxiety is a big weed with deep roots that can be suffocating.
I learned a few lessons about both the human psyche and gardening during my weeding this weekend:
- Weeds have deep roots and it is very hard to pull them out. But they must go. There is no place for weeds in my garden just like there should be no place for random negative thoughts and fears in my head. The thing to remember is, you must pull them out at the source, at the root. You can’t just pluck off the leaves because it is simply superficial change that doesn’t last long and they grow back. You need to identify the source, the root cause and then yank it out once and for all.
- Maintain your garden on a daily basis. Your garden, or the inside of your head, needs constant daily maintenance. As soon as you leave it, the weeds, the negative thoughts pop up. As soon as you see a weed, zap it. Don’t leave your garden untended because then the weeds jump in and take over like they are in charge, which they are not.
- Weeds are wild and pervasive. There is no structure to them. They grow wherever. They entwine themselves around the good stuff and dominate and overshadow it. Weeds are ugly and pop up uninvited, like most negative thoughts. It is difficult to focus and appreciate the good stuff when there are so many weeds about.
As I was weeding, I watched Megan skittering around the garden, clapping the air while she practiced her newly discovered skill of walking. I gazed at her as she waddled about like a gleeful, drunken sailor. My heart burst with love. I overflowed with warmth until it became like a fierce spring in me, as if it was above and beyond love, like some sort of madness or possession. I briefly imagined what life would be like without my daughter and was overwhelmed by a disorientation or nausea, like one feels when looking down from a high building. I wanted to run after her and squeeze her tight and never ever let her go. And then I stopped and thought, ‘That is a fear. That is a weed. WEEDS MUST GO.’