During my seven-plus decades of pondering why things happen the way they do without rhyme or reason, at least in my estimation, I have finally come to a conclusion… God has a sense of humor. My family members as well as my friends consider me to be a prime example of this revelation.
There I was, sitting on the tailgate of my farm truck holding a plastic bottle of cold water my wife had brought to me on her way up the drive to get her toes done (another example of God’s sense of humor… in my mind, anyway). She keeps a pretty close eye on me when I am working outside in the sun with the temperature in the low nineties. She says I don’t know when to quit. Maybe she is right. Somehow, I think I bought into my dad’s philosophy that if you quit doing something you would no longer be able to do it. This especially applies to those of us knocking on age 79. She was concerned, as always, about me overdoing it and finding me planted between the corn and the okra, which brings me to the subject of weeds and God’s sense of humor.
Gardening in a rural area surrounded by pastures and forest is different than gardening in a sub-division surrounded by manicured lawns and mulched flower beds with nary a weed in sight. In a rural area the slightest breeze delivers weed seeds to park themselves in any area where they can take root. Rural area, breeze, weed seeds and a freshly plowed garden is a recipe for trouble.
As I drank the water and looked at the weed-infested garden I began to smile to myself. God must have a sense of humor. First, the agricultural scientists recommend having your soil tested before planting a garden, obviously to help make sure what you plant will have the best chance of surviving and producing well. It is obvious that this works for weeds as well. Second, why is it that weeds grow faster than vegetables?
I had purchased a soil test kit and discovered I needed to add a little of this and a little of that… and a whole lot of fertilizer, and I am wondering why the weeds are out-growing the vegetables? Of course, when I watered the veggies I also watered the weeds, and the sunlight, necessary for a successful garden, didn’t discriminate, either. Yes, God has a sense of humor.
After my brief cooling-off period I was back on my knees pulling weeds and stacking them in piles at the end of the garden. This year my neighbor and I both had a fast-growing weed in our corn plots we had not seen before. Is this God’s way of humbling us… letting us know we can never have the final say about anything?
I hauled a truck load of weeds to the burn pile as a token of my revenge, then removed my dirt-encrusted clothing and headed for the shower… still thinking about weeds. It occurred to me that weeds come in many forms. They are not always blown into our vegetable garden where they take root and thrive, but sometimes they enter our lives and take root there. I think, at one time or another, we each have allowed weeds to enter the fertile soil of our lives… perhaps not even realizing they are there until they begin to grow and produce in ways we discover are unpleasant. Sometimes, we water and fertilize them because we derive a brief period of satisfaction. But, they are still weeds.
Growing a garden has taught me that the sooner I get rid of the weeds the less work I will have to do in the future. Pulling them up by the roots leaves more room for the good things to grow. I remember my wife’s stepfather, who in his seventies would work in his garden every day, weather permitting, pulling and hoeing weeds. He had a beautiful garden which always produced a bumper crop of produce for family and friends. Perhaps I should do the same.
Yes, God must have a sense of humor to use weeds to remind us how important it is to tend to our garden.
Ralph Thomas is a Locust Grove resident and the author of Doing Great, but Getting Better and Getting Old Can be Fun. email@example.com