A Family of Weeds

July 22, 2020

I’ve been spending a lot more time at my parent’s house these past few weeks. Doing absolutely nothing, mind you. It’s just that my three flights of stairs take a lot out of me. Most days I’ve got one, maybe two trips up and down. So once I get out I like to sit somewhere and not have to worry about traipsing.  


The main place I’ve been spending time has been my parents back yard. There’s the deck, there’s the driveway. There’s the garage in case it gets too hot and looks like rain. 


Then there’s always the field. Not just as a place to spend time, but simply as a backdrop. An unblemished view of power lines. How could that not be the American dream? 


A few weeks ago, dad mowed a part of the field into a maze. A small walking path for my mom and I. We’ve used it a few times. I would probably say the word “maze” is slightly intense. More of a crooked path that he only wanted us to be able to see and use. Also “few weeks” could mean a variety of things, time has melded in such an odd way. He could have mowed it in June. It could have been early February with ice on the ground. 


Recently we were out there taking a little walk and mom ran her hands through a group of plants and told me that she used to play with these when she was a little girl. The statement struck me. My mother did not come from poor people, and here she is, as a little girl, playing with weeds from her back yard. 


I’ve lived most of my life never noticing these plants. Now, of course, I see them constantly. 


Everywhere I turn. 






In the distance in the field behind my parents’ house. 


It’s amazing how much you see when you start to notice things. 


I asked her what she meant when she said she started to play with the plants. Like did they light up? Come with batteries? 


Nothing of the sort, of course. It’s just that one day, out of the blue, she picked up a clump and made them a family of three. The big one was the dad, the middle one was the mom, and the small one was the baby they were taxed with keeping safe. 


“Isn’t that sad,” she said.


How on earth could she find anything sad about that? 


Unless, of course, it was a comment on society at large, but I don’t really think so. Biting social commentary isn’t really mom’s M.O. 


And honestly, the more I think about it the more incredible it is. Because now, whenever I look out onto the field, I see toys. And vast rows of families. All we need to do is pick up three and size them by which her ones are tall, medium, and short. An entire day of fun and imagination is available at your fingertips. 


Maybe what’s sad is that we forgot how to imagine. Or that we forgot how much easier it is to bind things together instead of tearing them apart.

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