Over the summer, the kids and I volunteer every week at the Nature Center. It’s the best way I know for them to be able to get off the paths and close to what’s happening beyond the pavement. The other benefit is that most of the volunteers are a few generations older, not a group of people kids in our culture get to interact with in a broad way.
For the past few weeks, we have been pulling thistle (an invasive species in this ecosystem) out by the root. I love the fuzzy flower that, because it’s her favorite color, always reminds me of my mother. But the leaves, and the thick stalks of the older plants, are covered with spikes that sometimes pierce the heavy leather gloves I use to pull them. It’s hard, hot work, but Hawk’s Hill and the land alongside it, once covered in thistle, has no sign of it now.
This week we are cutting off the seed heads of canary grass, another invasive. The volunteers fan out into the blonde grasses, almost shoulder high, my children alongside me, lost in the sea of stalks. The sound of my son’s chuckles rise up to me suddenly, as he says, “It’s funny how we come out here to help, and we wind up killing things.”
It IS funny. Weeding out invasives is a way to conserve the landscape and protect this ecosystem.
I wonder, in the hot, still air, in the swishing grasses and the sound of clipping, what I am to learn from this.
What weeding is waiting in my own life, in order to conserve and protect?