Two friends have sent me email reminders to join in the celebration of Earth Day weekend. One of these friends informed me that Lowe’s Hardware is having a special on energy efficient lights. My other friend shared that he was leading music Saturday night at All Saints Episcopal Church, because the congregants love Earth Day. He shared the lyrics of the old hymn, "Morning Has Broken," that Cat Stevens made popular years ago. He said, “The song still moves me, so I wanted to share it with you to experience anew this Earth Day.
Every year, with the coming of spring, my wife and I are faced with the perennial task of yard maintenance. This work consists of clearing fallen branches and pinecones from beneath our Monterey Pines, trimming the lawns, and the assiduous weed control. Pulling the intruders from the soil by hand, or hacking down the first assault with my “weed-whacker” is a job I have learned to enjoy. Of course, the power tool is effective on the higher weeds, but the new growth quickly reclaims our one acre property, in spite of the new bark we put down to bring the land to submission. The insidious growth of weeds in our vegetable and flowerbeds, grass and rose garden is difficult to stay ahead of in an earth safe way.
Poets and prophets have used flowers and weeds as metaphor in their sayings. They often ponder the difference between the two. Clearly, some analogies have reference to people, as does Jesus’ parable of “the wheat and the tares.” Jesus often uses weeds as instructive metaphors in many of his teachings. In the parable of the sower, he spoke about the “good seed” being “choked by the weeds” (Matthew 13:7). I recently read a contemporary story of "the wheat and the tares” in which “an enemy did this” (Matthew 13:28). Apparently, a disgruntled worker introduced the jimson weed to North America by scattering the seeds in the fields of a farmer who had fired him from his job.
I commented to my Mom the other day saying; the Gravenstein orchard across the road was infested with mistletoe. She told me that Luther Burbank had imported European Mistletoe into California in the 1900s. I read somewhere that since that time, it has spread to 24 tree species, including the willow, alder, poplar, elm, mountain ash, crabapple, pear and the Gravenstein apple. In fact, one of Burbank’s experimental gardens is a five-minute walk from my house. I doubt Luther Burbank meant to cause harm, as the disgruntled worker seeking revenge did, but the plant has proven to be harmful to trees where the infestations are thick.
In consideration of the earth, people, flowers and weeds I agree with the poet, Luci Shaw when she says, “How drab our world would seem without fields and mountainsides carpeted with wildflowers in spring––multicolored lupines, Indian paintbrush, Texas bluebonnets, California poppies, trilliums, snowdrops and buttercups, bunchberries, forget-me-nots, edelweiss. All of them, and many others, grow spontaneously, filling the air with fragrance and color. And they’re all weeds, every one of them….”
In her book, “The Crime of Living Cautiously, Luci Shaw quotes from a Richard Wilbur poem, “Two voices in a Meadow,” In About a Milkweed Pod:
Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.