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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Post: When is a Weed a Weed?

Reed Soper was born and raised in southern California. He considered attending the Lord's University but opted for BYU instead where he met Kathryn Lynard doing his home teaching. They married in 1992 and have seven children. Friends and loved ones often describe Reed as "difficult" or "a slow learner." In his spare time, he likes (virgin) pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. Don't miss Reed's previous guest posts.

Our family bought our first home in a modest neighborhood. By modest, I mean, old, small and run-down. Lots of poor people, both because it was their first home and they stretched to buy it or the owners were senior citizens on fixed incomes without the means to maintain the property. There were homes, interspersed throughout the neighborhood that had well-attended yards, but they were the exception, not the rule. That being said, we bought what we thought we could afford. As I fumble to describe the yard of this first house, um, let's say it was apparent that the previous owners and the yard were not on speaking terms.

We bought the home in April, which I learned was the beginning of weed season. I spent a lot of time pulling weeds, watering what was left of the lawn in an attempt to conjure it back to life, cleaning debris, and generally trying to make it look decent. It took regular effort, like effort nearly every day, to eventually bring the yard to a level that I was okay with. One of my neighbors with a well-maintained yard approached me after we'd lived there for a year or so and complimented me on my efforts. My heart swelled. I was one of them! By them, I mean, those whose yards collectively raised the profile of the neighborhood rather than lowered it. I wanted to stay in that club.

As with nearly all things, our ownership of this home came to an end. It was time to move to a larger home, nearer to my work and maybe in a nicer neighborhood. We had the good fortune of finding all three. One of the things that impressed me about this house is that, with the exception of one (1), all of the yards on this street were carefully manicured. This was where I wanted to be, or so I thought.

Not only were the homes larger, the yards were as well. On paper, a larger yard made a bunch of sense – more room for the kids to play, plus bigger is always better, right? Wrong. We had made the offer on the home in April, not only the beginning of the weed season, but the wettest part of the year. At that time, the lawn was green and lush. We took occupancy the beginning of July, which in the desert that is Utah, is the dry season. I guess the sellers thought that since we bought it, they had no reason to irrigate the yard. So we took over and I had another project.

The one thing, though, is the yard was twice as big. And, as the kids got older, they seemed to need to be shuttled to more places. And my work seemed to demand more of my attention. And I learned that I like to do other things besides yard work. Let's just say, my standards have slipped.

My current neighbors would easily win an award for the best people ever. I mean that totally sincerely. They are friendly, patient, willing to help, interesting, talented, and with the exception of the Green's house, great landscape maintainers. I don't think that they think ill of me because I have more dandelions in my lawn than they do. But I have a theory about the concept of "passive-aggressive" speech. I will describe it in the footnotes so you don't have to read it if you don't want to. (2) I don't think their statements like "Wow, the dandelions really seemed to like your yard this year" were intended to say anything other than the surface meaning. That doesn't mean I haven't had the following conversation in my head:

Them: Wow, the dandelions really seemed to like your yard this year.

Me: Oh, no, I wanted them there. I planted them.

Them: What? You planted them there? How do you plant dandelions?

Me: It's part of my organic garden. Dandelion greens make an excellent addition to salads. (3) On that note, we are hosting a dinner featuring items from our organic garden next weekend and we'd love you to come.

Them: Oh, that sounds nice, um, we'd love to but we have, um, other plans.

Me: Okay, maybe next time. Wait till you see what we do with crabgrass and bindweed. I bet you've never had that kind of pesto.

Them: (leaving pretty rapidly)

Again, this is just something I rehearse in my head. If you think I'm being passive-aggressive there, well mister (or missy or ms.), that is a little something called comedy. It's pretty sophisticated so I could see how you'd mistake it. I digress.

ANYWAY, I've come to the conclusion that since one definition of weeds is a plant that you'd rather not have growing in a particular spot, if I decide that I do want that plant traditionally considered a weed there, it loses weed status. Just so you know, my "weeding" is done for the year.

(1) I found it ironic that the house with a bunch of brown, dead weeds in the front yard belonged to the "Green" family.
(2) I bet there are textbook definitions for passive-aggressive. I have never read any of them. I'm sure those sorts of comments exist. I think in my life, when I think I am the recipient of a p-a statement, it's really because I'm hyper-sensitive (grumpy). For instance, if a toilet breaks at my house in an inconvenient time (which is every time) and I have to go get a new one and replace it and the clerk at home depot when I check out says "Have a nice day," I don't think that is a p-a statement. I think at that point someone could say anything to me and it would tick me off. At some point, some therapist will be able to put several kids through college because of me.
(3) This is true but I don't think anyone I know has ever tried it and probably never will.

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