By Faith Foyil
One late spring evening in 2006, a few months after I first moved to Bucks County, my friend Beatrice came over to share an after dinner glass of Australian Shiraz. We took advantage of the warm temperature by watching the sun set from the comfort of my 2nd floor deck.
My gaze fell to the colorful blooms in the garden below. The flowers were slightly overshadowed by a growth of bushy greenery that had sprung up willy-nilly in thick clumps. An ivy-like vine wove in and out of the perimeter fence's vertical wooden planks, providing a background frame for the thick green growth.
"Your back yard looks like a jungle," said Beatrice matter-of-factly.
"You think there are too much plants back there?" I was rather taken aback.
"Plants?" she scoffed, drawing an imaginary line through the air from one corner of the property to the other. "Are you kidding? Those are weeds. If you don't get rid of them they're going to overtake your property."
My mailbox, only recently adorned with post-it notes from neighborhood kids hoping to earn a few bucks shoveling snow, is now crammed with postcards from landscaping services. They all offer to clean up and green up my lawn, to fertilize and cultivate it, to plant, seed, sow and design wonderful gardens for me.
One company wants to "thatch" the lawn, which almost sounds like I'll get a Caribbean-style handbag out of the deal. I'd like that. Another company wants to aerate my soil, but thank you very much; I don't need to hire anybody to air my own dirt.
I already have a Facebook page for that.
Soon, I'll find a spare hour, my trusty knee cushion, and the energy to start digging out the dandelion roots and mysterious parsley-looking growth that multiplies in patches faster than chicken pox.
"Ground sprawl"? It's more like a full ground offensive.
With gardening shears poised for slaughter, I'll attack the Harry Potteresque vines that are apparently choking the life out of my "real" bushes and linking unassuming trees and shrubs together to form new relationships. The vines would probably latch onto the dog if he hung out there too long. Luckily, he prefers to sleep indoors.
My weeding effort seems like a futile war of attrition. Two weeks after dumping at least three wheelbarrow loads full of whacked weed debris into giant paper lawn bags, I'll peek out of the back window. Sure enough, it'll be Poltergeist II all over again.
Around this very same time last year, I went to the doctor sporting a strange, itchy and oozing brown rash on my wrist. The skin puckered grotesquely and a tiny, red line stemming from the goo seemed to be pointing up toward my heart.
MRSA? No. Just poison ivy. That's the big thanks I got for a previous weekend spent pulling, planting, plucking and pruning. I had obviously ignored the "Leaves of three, let it be" rule from Gardening 101.
I'm well aware that chemical week killers, euphemistically referred to as "herbicides," will tamper the suckers. But I stick to the manual removal routine just in case those chemicals might harm my beloved pet. And I do somehow feel almost sorry for some of the more attractive weeds that try to disguise themselves by sprouting cute pink and white flowers. Sometimes I give them a temporary break and let them live a few weeks longer in their plant wannabee state of mind.
This year I've decided to throw in the trowel, er towel, at least temporarily. I'll concentrate on a bit of greenery that's easier to manage, by planting a variety of herbs. The herb plants will thrive, I know from experience, growing in a large ceramic pot contentedly on the deck, away from the weeds. Some water and sun and voila - we'll have fresh rosemary for roasted chicken, basil for spaghetti sauce and dill for fish, perhaps well into next fall.
It'll be a pleasure watching herbs grow in this deck planter and not having to deal with the misery of poison ivy and the agony of weeding, at least for a while.
And yes, there'll be an added bonus from temporarily giving up on the weeding, avoiding trips to the doctor for mysterious rashes and simply concentrating on my deck herb planter for a while:
I'll have plenty of extra thyme on my hands.
Faith R. Foyil is a writer who lives in Newtown, Pa. She is the author of Sunny Daze: The Humorous Misadventures of a Tropical Island Mom as well as 101 Haiku for Moms.