Just before sunrise, I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds and cleaning up some of the flowerbeds. This has always been one of my favorite times of the day, especially when the weather gets hot. The cool morning air is damp, the grass is wet with dew and I can work for a couple of hours without sweating.
It's not a quiet time though. The whole area comes alive with the songs of birds and together they greet the new day. A young crow's hungry cry comes from the woods behind the house. From up the valley comes the raspy cry from a young Red-tailed hawk. It's morning and he calls to his parents to bring him breakfast. There are a couple of young robins in the yard who give out their hunger call too. Other hungry voices can also be heard as young fledglings of all kinds call out. The young grosbeaks, jays and Downy woodpeckers are being fed sunflower seeds at the bird feeders. I use more birdseed now than any time of the year.
Another good reason to do garden work early in the morning is the absence of deer flies. They can be very pesky once the sun is up.
This also is a good time for some peaceful thought. There is always something that needs to be hashed over in my mind. Then it dawned on me, how many weeds I'd pulled and chopping in my life? As I began to recall all the different places I've toiled against the weeds I realized how many hours I'd spent at it.
As a young boy of 5 years old, I was shown which weeds to pull in the garden and the plants not to pull. I've been weeding a garden ever since. Pulling unwanted weeds has always been a part of my summertime life.
When I was a little older I could make extra money pulling yellow rocket from hayfields. I got paid by the gunny-sack full. A few extra bucks came from hoeing weeds from between tobacco plants.
As I grew older my distaste for noxious weeds grew and I spent countless hours pulling burdock, nettles, wild parsnip, thistles, canada goldenrod and sweet clover from my favorite roadside prairies. Now I find myself adding a lot of extra time pulling an ultra-invasive plant known as garlic mustard. All these plants can take over a given area and completely change the diversity of the plant communities. Without diversity, there will be fewer and fewer wildlife species of all kinds if taken over by a few.
I stand and head for the compost pile with a wheelbarrow full of weeds. I recycle everything from the yard and gardens that can be turned into rich compost and returned to the land.
An Indigo bunting sings to me from his perch above the Scarlet runner beans. If I weren't out pulling weeds this morning, I wouldn't have seen him. I guess that for me, pulling weeds is just another excuse to be outside enjoying Mother Nature. I'm much healthier for doing it, not to mention the things I've learned about the outdoors that make me the person I am today. I'll never be remembered for all the weeds I've pulled but maybe for who I was and that would be enough reward for anyone.
Although, at times my life may seem like a clerical mess, I know how to make a difference for other life forms if I pull some weeds.
When I get to thinking about it, there are so many reasons for pulling weeds. The bottom line is that it gives me satisfaction, a basic need we all long for.
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