Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Inside Out

"Well honey, the yard certainly needs weeding," my mother informed me over breakfast on the back porch just yesterday morning.

"Look at them. They're taking over the yard. The situation is out of control."

I glanced up from our daily Garner, North Carolina newspaper, otherwise known as "The Baptist Manifesto," and stared into the legion of trees flanking the lawn.

"You know what? I don't see any weeds Mom."

This wasn't the rhapsodic response she'd hoped to illicit. I could tell. So she tried again...

"Oh don't be silly honey, they're right there. How can you possibly miss them?"

We've been having the 'weed conversation' for approximately 3 months now, and seem to possess entirely different views on what constitues the nature of a weed. Where she sees a weed, I see an innocent sapling trying to sprout out of a maliciously shorn trunk. Where I see an innocent tree, she sees an invasive interloper hell-bent on making a mockery of her prudent pièce de résistance---aka, The Yard.

What I did not know until I moved into my parent's home a few months ago, is that my mom's diabolical definition of a weed is anything she didn't actually plant in the yard herself--- be it a rogue wildflower, a tangle of tulips, or an entire cluster of crape myrtle trees.

Against my better judgement and because this is not my house and I therefore do what I am told without asking questions--- today I donned a pair of raggedy gardener's mitts, grabbed a rusty hedge trimmer, and set out to singlehandedly rid the yard of unwelcome vegetation.

My Dad threw out a bit of local wisdom, just before jumping into the car and driving away--

"Remember, if it has three leaves, leave."

That bit of color commentary was supposed to prevent me from getting into a tussle with one of more than a thousand poison ivy patches dotting the perimeter.

It was at about this point that I started thinking about my former life as an adult, in Los Angeles, California. And my gardener who would show up every Wednesday evening to blow leaves from my stoop, pull actual weeds from my shrubbery and water the dusty pavement.

Now, somehow, I am the gardener.

I'm not a tree hugger by nature, simply because I don't have what it takes to actually put myself behind any sort of cause for more than three seconds before feeling that the cause is asking too much of me.

But today, I felt for the trees. And the flowers. And well...the weeds. Because they were simply trying to do their thing.

Manicured lawns and razor-edged driveways and woodchip-lined walkways never really made any sense to me. It's like systematically trying to make the outside of the house, be the inside of the house.

"Here is the carpet. We call it the lawn, but it's really the green carpet. We like the lawn to be approximately as long as the carpet fibers in the livingroom. Can you do that? And trim up those edges. We need a straight lines."

The guy next door mows his lawn so precisely that I'm convinced he's devised an exit strategy to prevent footprints.

But again, this is not my home. And when my services are needed, I must comply. So I trimmed. And I tore. And I traumatized not a few young tree-lings.

The morning sort of went as such:

"I'm sorry..." snip.

"I know, I should seriously consider growing a backbone..." clip.

"Why did I ever decide to go back to school? I hate school..." rip.

"Please don't hold this against me. Look, I'll save you. Let's just cover you in a bit of mulch. You can still breathe right? Just don't move ok? You can still photosynthesize through that one free leaf, right? Don't try to SPROUT for christsakes. Stay put. For the love of God, she's watching."

Euclid would be proud. We are now far more geometrically consistent than we were at 9am this morning.

I however, am not proud. But I can't deal with another fall now anyway.

--Tara Callahan


  1. Seriously... amazing. I want the book. ;-)

  2. If you move back to Hoboken, you wouldn't have to pull weeds :)

  3. A glimpse into your beautiful soul...thank you