The plants someone else planted, spreading and clumped. The ferns burnt up by the heat. The daylilies flopped over. The black-eyed susans drifting drifting drifting onto the weedy lawn. Such a big mess, I don't even know where to start.
And then there's the matter with the Loosestrife, which I only recently learned is an invasive species. Yank it out now! shout the more knowledgeable gardeners in my gardening group. And then set it on fire! (They're joking about the setting it on fire part.) Wait. Are they joking? And all along I'd thought the loosestrife was pretty, with its big shoots of purply flowers that all the bees love. Isn't a plant "good," if it attracts bees? The more I learn, the less I understand.
The cruelty of the world, for example. It isn't new, but some days it feels that way. Once I was a ten-year-old girl. Painfully quiet and living loudly inside my own head. Not pregnant like the little Ohio girl in the news, but that was only luck.
I am so very grateful for that.
But here is a question: Why do some little girls get canopy beds and a sweet goodnight kiss on the forehead, while other little girls... don't? About that mess in the garden, you start where you start.
One corner of the yard. Watering the ferns. Breaking apart the daylilies. Digging up the weeds and moving the black-eyed susans. Stopping for a moment to set out a water dish for insects because, Hey! they have to drink too! (This I learned in the session I went to at the library on "How to Turn Your Backyard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat.")
We're losing birds. We're losing bees. And bats and fireflies and little girls. Some of the neighbors spray pesticides on their lush, carpet-y lawns. Maybe it is a lost cause. Our luck running out, and what can we do?
Regarding the loosestrife, there is a solution: replace it with a different purply-flowered plant called Blazing Star, a native species both bee and gardening-group-approved. Newly planted in my backyard, it hums with bees. And today, at least, all of them will have fresh water to drink.
I was one of the lucky ten-year-old girls. A daily reminder to myself never to forget it.