I deal with Tansy Ragwort on a yearly basis. It’s a toxic weed that will fool wildlife and cattle into consuming it… and it will kill livestock or other browsers. It’s so much a threat that it’s even earned its own webpage.
In past years, I’ve tried pulling it, but the stuff just keeps coming back. So this year, I’m just doing as the County recommends and clipping the flower-heads off.
But there is a connection with my upper meadow that happens as I do this.
The land demands its own speed of work:
requires its own pace;
you cannot work faster
or you will suffer.
Tiny blackberry vines
tear at your ankles,
leaving scratches that feel
like bleeding gashes in their pain.
One must take time,
planting a walking-stick carefully and solidly;
each step measured and planned.
Each rise and fall of the earth
challenges the ankles and knees,
demanding attention be paid to each step;
else a fall into a stand of Canadian Thistle.
Sol overhead is relentless,
the body demanding speed to gain the quiet cool of the house;
but the work requires patience.
Reaching the next evil plant,
the clippers dispatch it
with a metallic schlick
and the despised flower-head
drops to the ground in defeat.
Many others round the meadow
raise their heads in defiance;
but they have not yet met my wrath;
how dare they grow here
and threaten the health of casual browsers?
Those nearest to setting seed
receive a ‘haircut’ to knock off the beginning seed-heads
and then another clip close to the ground,
to help kill the rest of the plant.
As I step gently through the meadow
I pass a blackberry vine,
its fruit heavy and fat with the summer sun;
and I take my revenge for the scratching
its brethren have given me:
the fruit is sugary, moist, sweet, and full of the summer meadow.
The heat and the work take their toll:
My hands ache with the effort
and my knees protest from the uneven ground.
Yet this is my charge as God’s appointed temporary caretaker
of this property;
I must finish now
Lord, please sustain me.
I continue my faith
as I move from evil plant to evil pant
cutting, preventing; a caretaker of this great gift.
And finally I find myself
pretty much where I started my trek
into the meadow;
and I scan with my best and hardest look:
no evil Tansy in my sight.
Thank you Lord.
My hiking stick chafing the web of my thumb
the mind exaggerating it into raw, bleeding flesh
I return to the coolness
of the shaded house
and a thankful cup of coffee.