Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Sunday. It is the first beautiful day, almost like summer. The sky is clear, the sun is hot, the sounds of lawn mowers and weed eaters are abroad in the land. It is a day that makes you feel like you're young again and anything is possible. Well, I felt like that until after I'd worked pulling weeds at the church for an hour and came home and sat down for a while. When I moved again my joints had set up like concrete, and when I stood and began to walk my knees and my back spoke to me. They said, “What are you, crazy? Making us work in a garden? You know better than that. Send down the aspirin, NOW.” It was “Grub Sunday” at church, which means that everyone is supposed to wear their grubby clothes and go out and work on the grounds after the service. In the past I have adopted the “let someone else do it” attitude, but today, I don't know, the sun was so bright, and the air was so warm, and I saw people out there with rakes and shovels, so I came home and got into my grubbies, grabbed some garden tools, and went back to put in a little effort. Brief time travel digression: back in college, this would be early 1967, I was in a class one day when the students were discussing an upcoming outdoor class project and it was suggested that everyone wear their grubbies. The teacher, a nice older lady, asked, “What are grubbies?” and after the nice girls in the class fumbled around for a minute or two trying to make the concept clear, one of them waved a hand toward me and said, “You know, like Mary wears.” No one has ever accused me of being a stylish kind of gal. So, coming back to the present beautiful, sunny, warm day, there I was digging up quack grass and remembering hearing it defined as a single plant that sent roots all over the planet, so that no matter how much you dug or pulled it out, it always came back better, stronger, and thicker. The quack grass is a mighty grass. I dug it up, anyway. Probably go back and dig it up again later on. Then I pulled up some of those little weeds that are the first to come up in the garden. They have cute little white flowers that mature into long cylindrical seed pods. When you touch the plants to pull them up, the pods react by shooting their seeds a foot or so, cute little green projectiles. I admire those little guys for their splendid method of propagating themselves. Also for their shallow roots that make them easy to pull. Dug out some dandelions, and took a second to think ill of Narcissa Whitman, the missionary who brought the dandelion to the Northwest. She was right about it being a useful, beneficial plant. Like everything else, dandelions would be better in moderation, but the dandelion is not a moderate plant, and it has a tap root that goes down, down, down, so it doesn't come out of the ground without a fight. Poor Narcissa Whitman. Not only did she fail to convert the entire population of the Oregon Territory to proper Protestant Christianity, she and many other people were killed by members of the Cayuse tribe who were bent out of shape that their children were dying of measles while white children, who had some resistance to the disease, seemed to recover. On top of that, she left us with our yards full of dandelions. Well, the church grounds were tidied up a bit, and the aspirin kicked in here at Casa Tuel, and the glorious day continued to be glorious. My husband made a dump run, and I figured out how to make handles out of duct tape so that my grand daughter could run around flapping the cardboard wings she made. The sun is shining and the birds are yelling. All in all a great day. It is enough. Note: My friend Becky read this and said that Doc Maynard brought dandelions to Seattle to make liver tonic. I hope to hear from anyone else who has the down low on how dandelions got here. Considering how they spread on their own, I don't think they would need that much help to get here. It might take a little longer, is all.


Don Joseph said...

Beautiful Mary. You painted a picture so real that now my back hurts. I love reading your blogs.


MaineCelt said...

Sad to hear the Loop is curling up and blowing away... but glad we can still find you in the blogosphere.

Re: dandelions, Linda Allen has a cute children's song about dandelions. I have a cassette somewhere of her singing it with her daughters, c. 1990, at Folklife. One of the verses says, "In Eighteen-Hundred things were bleak and bare / Not a little dandelion anywhere / But Cathy Maynard knew that dandelions cure / So she brought them to Washington and we thank her."