Another example of my transition trouble: my architect friend says that farmers like Farmer G, once they have a weed-whacking zappa in hand will whack everything in its path. That includes the pretty, wild, flowering plants that pop up everywhere during certain seasons, and that cost nothing, as opposed to the fancy, expensive ones we’ve been buying. So Farmer G and I have a conversation about his leaving the nicer-looking wild things in place, while I try to control the weeding around them by hand.
We discuss which are really dangerously invasive, as opposed to those that are just a nuisance for someone with a zappa and a job to do—someone who has to tiptoe around annoying plants, as well as around a nutty signora who thinks she knows something about aesthetics.
Well, of course he was right. When Marcello comes, he shakes his head at my plan to mix the wild with the fancy stuff. The wildflowers that cost niente may look good, but they are too strong for the ones we bought. And if mixed together in the dog-eat-dog world of nature, they will quickly overwhelm the pricy stuff.
After I spend a day trying to weed that mixed-use hillside, I see the error of my ways. Some of those innocent-looking wild plants have roots that go straight down to China, and once given a foothold, are practically impossible to control.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE—AND SHOULDN’T BE
After that conversation with Marcello, I said I understood that there needed to be a “frontiera”—a line in the sand—between the wild and the purchased plants. To placate me, he agreed, sort of, that there could be a wild zone near the other area with the fancy-pants plants. But only after trying hard to “controllare” the wild things did I begin to “get it.”
Can you guess which of these plants cost money? (the two at front of the wall)
Only one of these came from a nursery.
It's the struggling Russian Sage (Perovskia) in the center.
Then, this AM, I stumble on the article, by Joe Robinson, “THE SECRET OF A LIFE OF NO REGRETS:LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE”—a prelude to his new book, “Don’t Miss Your Life.” As Alan Watts once put it, “unless one is able to be fully present, the future is a hoax.” To summarize more of Robinson’s argument, “Live now. Because tomorrow’s too late.” He goes on to say that “I produce therefore I am” is “a lousy measuring stick of self-worth.…External approval is a trap…..What we really regret are the things we don’t do.” He concludes with the ultimate zinger: “Time is the Real Money.”
“INCH BY INCH, ROW BY ROW…”
The “on getting whacked” entry elicts a flashback to Arlo Guthrie’s song from the album in memory of Lee Hayes, who was, along with Pete Seeger, a beloved member of the folk group, The Weavers. (Blacklisted Hayes wrote or co-wrote “If I Had a Hammer” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” among other unforgettable songs.) Arlo tries to teach it to the audience:
“INCH BY INCH, ROW BY ROW
GONNA MAKE THIS GARDEN GROW
GONNA MULCH IT DEEP AND LOW
GONNA MAKE IT FERTILE GROUND…”
That album from the documentary film Lee wrote, “The Weavers:Wasn’t That a Time!”, also contains a wisely humorous song by Lee (“In Dead Earnest”) in which he gleefully acknowledges his “recyclable” dead body as part of the life cycle. Now there was a guy who “got it.” Ditto for the breathtaking BBC series, “Planet Earth.” The bottom line: we are all part of the food chain. But right now, I prefer not to think too much about that.