Treasure Hunt

I went on a treasure hunt of a different kind, today. Last fall, I’d planted a few pink echinacea, and that area of my garden, next to the new grass, had become so overgrown with crabgrass and weeds (probably because of all the watering I had to do to keep my new sod alive through the winter), that the echinacea disappeared. I knew vaguely where they were, but the new growth made the area seem so much like foreign territory, that I didn’t know for sure, and I was afraid to just start yanking unwanted vegetation in case I also yanked the wanted plants.

I finally noticed that one plant, a bit farther from the sod than the others, had broken the surface. I figured if the other plants survived the winter, they should also be visible now, so that’s what my hunt was about — looking through all the weeds to find the echinacea. I think I found them all. I carefully dug up the thick clumps of weeds and crabgrass to give the echinacea space, and then drove stakes next to the plants so I wouldn’t have to go searching for them again.

There is still a lot more cleaning up I have to do, but until I can identify more of the baby plants, I don’t want to start digging lest I remove some seedlings I might want. Many plants look alike when they are young, such as larkspur and wild mustard, and it’s too easy to pull up the wrong thing. In fact, the mustard grows among the larkspur, making the whole patch look as if it might be mustard, so when the plants are big enough to differentiate, I have to be very careful to only pull the weeds.

I tend to think most of the small unidentified seedlings are weeds. I don’t see anything that looks as if it might be the beginning of a wildflower field, so either it’s too early or the birds ate the seed. The birds did seem to be inordinately interested in my little garden patch this winter despite a full birdfeeder just a few feet away in my neighbor’s yard, so who knows what, if anything, I will end up with.

What’s nice about having work to do outside is that it gives me an excuse to be out in the open air, especially on nice days. Although today wasn’t particularly warm, it qualified as a nice day because the horrid winds we’ve having took a brief break. I did enjoy that!

If the ten-day forecast is anything to go by, it looks as if we are heading into frost-free weather, so I could start planting if I wished. But I don’t wish. The wind, you know.

After my treasure hunt and the clean-up that followed it, I spent some time wandering my paths, enjoying both the landscape and the hardscape that’s been laid down, and thinking about someday having my own private park, when everywhere I turn, I’ll see a different aspect of the yard. For example, the lilac bushes are all still young (the big plant in the corner of this garden photo is a baby lilac), but when they are grown up, that part of the yard will look completely different.

As with everything else in my life, I’m trying to not look too much to the future, trying to keep my eyes on what is rather than what might be or what will be.

And today, what is, is a garden spot that still looks nice, weeds, and all.

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Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.