Thursday, September 03, 2009

Weeds and Flowers

There is Scottish Thistle growing along the roads beside our house. We’re in western Pennsylvania, which apparently has such deep Celtic2314-400lkh roots and ancestry that thistle happened to spring up from the earth. Okay, I suppose someone brought some back from Scotland. It wasn’t us, although we were there last summer, and although I had a lot of  fun admiring the country’s national emblem growing wild in the highlands and along roads and being depicted on street signs and shop signs. I didn’t notice it here before. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

To be honest, it likely didn’t have the chance to grow as well as it has this year because … well, our state has yet to approve a budget so weeds alongside the roads aren’t being cut. At least that’s my theory as to why they’re taking over the sideline landscapes.

Yes, I’m enjoying the purple thistle. It reminds me of Scotland and I have a true, deep love for that country. It doesn’t quite match the love I have for my own, but it would be one of two places I would relocate if I every got kicked out of here (and with some of my political opinions, maybe I will be). The other would be Italy, but then I’d have to learn Italian. The Scots at least speak English: not quite American English but close enough to catch on quickly.

No, I don’t have plans to move, but when I mentioned to my husband that a local plant nursery had thistle growing in front of their building, which I thought was very cool, he said, “I can’t imagine why anyone would plant a sticker bush.”

Oh. I suppose he has a point. As I thought about it, I decided I wouldn’t actually want it in my yard, either. It’s a weed, you know. It will spread and take over if it’s allowed. And although I enjoy the bit of it I see, there is a line things need to maintain or else they cause havoc.

I also enjoy the goldenrod not being cut down. I’m allergic to the stuff and definitely don’t want THAT in my yard, but in my car as I’m driving past with the windows closed, it’s very pretty. [Now I’m hoping I’m naming that bright yellow weed correctly. TC, my professional gardening friend, may correct me, a gardening amateur.]

EdinburghBut that’s the way it often goes – something that looks like a very cool idea in its bright and shiny glory at a distance changes once you start looking closer.  I think we see that in politics a lot. I’ll leave that thought for the moment. I blog politically blatant at Myspace and sometimes at Facebook, but not here. Don’t worry. I won’t start.

I know we see it in everyday life. And I see it in writing. Adverbs are weeds, for instance. In their proper place and kept at a minimum, they  are pretty words that help a writer get an image across. Left to spread uncontrolled, however, they muddy the waters and we’re left with so many of them it’s hard to see the grass. I love grass. It’s the basic structure, the spreading earthy grounding soul of a yard, and of a book. I’ve become obsessed with grass after living in the south for 12 years and having such a time trying to keep my yard green and fresh. I planted some recently here and go look out at it every day. It’s thriving. I did nothing but prepare the soil, throw some straw over top to hold it and mulch it, and timed it just before a few days of rain moved in … and it’s thriving on its own. A beautiful site.

The patch that was nothing but packed dirt and weeds is now soul-soothing (green will do that for you) and makes me feel like my thumb is a touch more natural than I thought.

Of course I have flowers, also. The marigolds in the photo above are now planted here and there around my flower beds. Many don’t like marigolds because they smell bad. Yes, but they are natural pest deterrents. Critters don’t like their smell, either. I put marigolds in with my veggies this year and have had very little trouble with Japanese Beatles.
Scottish Thistle in Scotland
Flowers are the extra description of a novel. They highlight the story, bring color and beauty. Again, though, too much of it and it  overpowers everything until the story is too hard to find.

Nature is about balance. Grass should be central. The Japanese would disagree with me, but I’m an American and so my statement stands. We like pretty yards of rolling grass without weeds and highlighted by flowers. That’s how I like my fiction, also. Rolling grass [story] with maybe a dandelion accent [weeds] here and there and a flowery [descriptive] highlight. 

Tomorrow (September 4th)  I’ll be introducing myself during Classic Romance Revival’s “Author Intro” month, part of their grand opening celebration. Come by and see what you can win just by commenting!



Celia Yeary said...

LORAINE--I took botany among my other science courses, and learned "there're no such thing as weeds--only misplaced flowers." So your analogy of adverbs as weeds certainly fits. Adverbs aren't bad, only when they take over or used wrong or too much.I love a good adverb now and then. I enjoyed this essay about your garden. Celia

StephB said...

I love your analogy - Adverbs are weeds. Well said. What a lovely post about flowers and writing. A nice inspirational nature post, Loraine!

Dorothy said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this blog. I also apreciated the tip about the marigolds! The late, beloved Illinois senator, Everett Dirksen always loved them, but I never have particularly. That's about to change. I'm going to plant marigolds around my yard, as they are much nicer than Japanese beetles. Thanks for the nice mental trip around your yard, and the useful gardening tip. :)

TC said...

Hmmm, I wonder, as I'm wont to do when gardening talk abounds, if you've a patch of Canadian thistle also? Although weedy, thistle is an attractive wildflower I think. As is solidago canadensis (goldenrod, and yes, you named "that bright yellow weed correctly"), which seems to be taking over woodlot and field edges from here to yonder. I'm also wondering if ragweed might be the cause of your allergen troubles, goldenrod is usually not the culprit.

That local nursery, it's not Nelson's is it? I've not been by there lately.

One more thing, flowers can never be overpowering, not even in a novel. Oh, wait, yes they can, I forgot about your analogy. ;~)

LK Hunsaker said...

I'm catching up and just read back over this. Oh, too many typos! See, that's why I edit my books over and over. ;-)

Anyway, TC, Canadian Thistle? Ah, maybe so. You'll have to forgive me if I continue to think of it as Scottish. And you're probably right about the ragweed. Hard to tell as most of that green stuff out there translates to allergies to me. Rose and thorn. *shrug*