Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sweet Weedy Spring
I have to admit, I've always had a special place in my heart for Henbit, although I didn't know what it was called until I married a farmer's son. I guess it would be more accurate to say, "I've always had a special place in my heart for that little dark green plant with the funny shaped stick-like flowers with nectar in them", which is what I called them for a good many years.
Around here they are definitely considered "a weed" and frowned upon. In February, when nary a blade of Bermuda or Crab grass has dared to show its little, green head above the ground, the Henbit comes out in clumps here and there, and yes, you can tell who does more lawn maintenance throughout the year by who has the greenest lawn in February. (Here's a hint. The greener the lawn, the less lawn-care)
Since my family was never terribly interested in doing anything more than mowing, we often had a beautiful green lawn in February and I loved it. I was so proud of how nice it looked when all the others were brown and scraggly. Not only did we get the lovely green, but there was a slight purple flush as all the flowers came out.
And best of all, of course, was the infinitesimally small bit of nectar you could suck out of the flowers. My friends and I would sit down and have a tiny, little feast and we thought we'd discovered some hidden mystery of the botanical universe. After all, it was almost like living off the land right?
Now that I'm married to the above-mentioned farmer's son I know that the plant is called Henbit, and that it's a weed. DA Da dum! We must get rid of the Henbit, because it is not what we want in our yard. It is unacceptable, nay unworthy, so we spray our yard in the early spring with that completely unnatural shade of teal-green dyed Round-Up, and watch it all whither away, to be replaced in a few weeks by the first sprigs of Bermuda. Stupid Bermuda.
Luckily I have succeeded in passing on my quirk to my own children. (That's what happens when Daddy goes to work and Mommy gets every day from 8-5 to indoctrinate them.) Last year I showed them how to pick the little flowers and find the nectar at the tips, and this year they were so excited to see the first plants in the little field behind our house. They ran around the field, squealing and dancing with the sheer joy of life and discovery. They snacked for a while on the first sweetness of spring, and felt that same joy I remember so well from my own childhood.
This morning when I looked out my kitchen window the back field had a coating of teal-green, and I have to admit it made me sad and a little angry. I'm glad the town is taking care of its properties of course, but what was a magical place yesterday is now off-limits, and by the time my little ones can play there again all the sweetness will be withered away to nothing.
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