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Weeding the Path

Between the stones of the path to our front door, the pretty thyme is getting overgrown with crabgrass. At first the grass was pretty too, a bright green fringe of little blades outlining the rocks. But now it's sprawling over the rocks, sending out runners and rooting again.

I wouldn't let Ward mow over the path. Since I'm going to pull that grass, I don't want to encourage root growth. Instead of inviting, the shaggy path looks uncared for, abandoned -- an obstacle course: terrible Feng Shui.

All weeding improves the garden's Feng Shui. Removing the distracting bulk of unwanted plants reveals the effect the gardener planned. That effect -- composed of elements like color, shape, and texture -- builds a certain feeling of energy, a certain movement of energy: in one area stimulating; in another, restful.... In the front walk, a happy, gracious welcome draws nourishing energy into the home.

So I've always enjoyed weeding this path. I sit down on the stone, and carefully tease the plants apart, pulling each unwanted seedling slowly in order to get the roots, persuading them out of the earth. A fiddly, painstaking job -- but with each clump gone, I pause and look at the water-rounded edges of the rocks emerging, the rhythmic patterns they make together as they lead to the house. Like combing my hair: getting the snarls out and feeling it flowing free again.

This year, however, I'm angry there's so much grass here. Last year, the lawn didn't get its edges trimmed often enough: the fringes grew tall and went to seed, depositing in the walk. It'll take years to get rid of the seeds from last year's neglect. I start hurrying, with the result that I break leaves off and the roots are harder to get. I keep thinking of how hard this bending is, for my weak back, and feel caught in a dilemma: I want to reduce this exhausting job, but I can't think how, short of packing cement between the stones (ugh!).

Then I realize I'm ruining the fun. I start doing it early in the morning when it's cool; I find a comfortable foam pad to sit on. I slow down. I pay better attention to seeing the graceful lines emerging ... and I feel my own energy change: as though something was tight around my chest, and now I'm breathing more easily again.

© Copyright 2003 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publishing papers on Friday, 1 August 2003

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