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September 5th, 2009

The Weeder

After a cool, rain-muddied Summer, the sun has at last emerged, clear and lovely in September, and a quick amnesia has set in this week at the farm. How beautiful it is!

We’ve planted new mixed gourmet lettuce, baby spinach, braising greens, broccoli raab and chard, and the Brussels sprouts are starting to swell on their tall, ungainly stalks.

But this is the swan song for the farm, a last determined push before the deep sleep of winter.

We are a hopeful lot. We hope for sun, we hope for rain, we hope for fruit-swelling heat. We hope for more of whatever we and our leafy charges may covet. There’s never enough of something and always too much of something else.

Outside of the world within fences, the rest of the property has been brutally annexed by weeds. The wet Summer been a boom time for these thugs. They love excess: too much heat, to much rain, too much dry.


Barbarians at the gates. Given a chance, theselow-lifes would crash any well-kempt ground they could.

Weeds flourish on the exponential fringes of weather, thriving on adversity, sprawling and colonizing in thick, obscene swaths. They have a merciless appetite for self-preservation. Why can’t my heirloom lettuce be as shameless and libertine?

I admit, I’m impressed by their Darwinian vigor; how their root-clenched fists hold fast to the soil, how they skulk in hard-to-reach corners, or colonize and entire field overnight.


A tangled orgy of weeds pulled from the black currant beds. The cats have yet to volunteer. They use weeds to floss.

Of course, pulling these miscreants out by the roots in heavy, pitiless clumps, is an act of exaltation in the garden. Few chores blend a more complex mix of pleasure and dread.

So we weed. We’re not expecting an Oscar nod for our work. After all, In our version of “The Weeder”, no one is weeding to us (although there is something earthy and Kate Winslet-y about my wife). Just keeping ahead of them has to be good enough, one god-awful thug at a time. – Mb

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