Sunday, March 6, 2011


Because my dad came from sturdy farmer lineage, my parents always had a garden. They had a big garden at our farm, where my dad's assorted relatives--who had no where else to go lived--and a small one in town, where we lived. The two habitations were naught but five miles apart. An easy bicycle ride. At least that's what my dad thought when he'd send my middle sister and me out to the farm to weed the garden. We were thankful mom took care of the town garden--mostly because my sister and I hated weeding detail. It was such a dirty job. It was during times like this that we wondered why mom never had any boys. Three girls, the baby five years younger than me and too little to do any work. She just sat around looking cute. We two oldest sat around looking dirty. What rotten luck.

I was eight and my sister was seven when dad deemed us fit to rid the farm garden of its undesirable inhabitants. "Now this is how you do it," he said. "Grab the weed by the bottom of the clump, give a good pull to get out all the roots, then shake off all the dirt so the weed can't grow back." Like terminators my sister and I set out to destroy every intruder in sight. "We have to get every single one," I said, "or dad will make us come back and finish the job." So we pulled and shook and then piled them in an unused part of the field, just outside the  garden gate, where the sun was brightest and hottest. How we delighted in knowing they would die a slow, drink-less death.

Then the most mysterious thing happened. A few weeks later, dad sent us out to weed again. "Impossible," I thought. We pulled them all and killed them good in the hot sun. But my dad wasn't one to be argued with. Nor sassed either unless you didn't value your life anymore. So out to the farm my sister and I biked. What we discovered was both a mystery and horrifying at the same time. The weeds were back. In full glory. I was highly suspicious that dad had replanted them. Yet the more I thought about that, the more I considered that I'd been reading too many Nancy Drew books--my favorite genre around that age.

I decided the only way I'd know if I was right or wrong would be to walk over to that hot, hot, hot, corner of the field  where we'd tossed the last weeds.  To my surprise, there they were, a good size pile of parchment-looking, dried up dead things--right where we had so gleefully left them.

"It's no use," we informed dad. "We did like you said, but they came back. They were all over the place again."  That's when dad sat us down and explained about bird-dropped seeds and wind-blown seeds. "You have to keep at it," he said, "or they'll take all the water and our lettuce, corn, strawberries, spinach, carrots, beets and tomatoes won't grow."

So it wasn't a mystery after all. So much for trying to be like Nancy Drew. I was so disappointed knowing it was the stupid wind. The stupid birds. The whole stupid garden! I'd be weeding for the rest of my life. And dirty too. Rotten knowledge for a kid to own.

Copyright 2011 by Sandra L. Keith