Sunday, December 19, 2010

fring weeds

In second spring I wrote about the spring-like season that follows the onset of fall rains in Southern California. Having decided that the terms first spring and second spring are too judgmental, I'm going to call it fring -- a lovely season in its own right, and not an imitation of the flowering that begins in March.*

In spring I like to spend a lot of time pulling rain-nourished weeds out of the parking strip. With fring's infusions of laundry water and rainwater, the  common chickweed, dandelions, petty spurge, and oxalis, along with an occasional wild carrot have returned in force. But that's not all, as they say in the TV ads! There are innumerable dichondra and allysum seedlings, as well as some healthy runners -- and occasional blossoms -- on the violets.

I firmly believe my diligence in pulling spring weeds has made room for more of the wanted plants that are now getting an early start on spring 2011. Haven't I read over and over that the best way to fight weeds over the long haul is to deny them room? Another bit of conventional wisdom is that weed seeds are always lurking underground, just waiting to sprout when a vacant lot or new garden bed is forcibly dug up. Thus I try to pull weeds with minimal disturbance to the surrounding soil.

Neighbors and passersby see me pulling weeds by hand in the parking strip and sometimes remark on my patience and diligence. I generally tell them it's occupational therapy for me, but in truth it's pure recreation -- a time for quiet reflection punctuated by amusing visits. When other activities call, I add handfuls of mineral-rich weeds to the thick mulch in our raised beds.

Recently a woman asked me why I'm always working in the yard. "Isn't this supposed to be low maintenance?" she asked critically, indicating the sign that identifies us as proud harvesters of rainwater. I tried to explain that one's source of water and one's choice of plants are two different concepts, but she rushed on with her silent husband and their two slathering German shepherds. My bleat of "I do it for FUN!" dissipated in their wake.

With laundry water at my disposal, I hope to keep the parking strip 'greened up' year round. Where the greenness of spring 2010 was mostly weeds, the greenness of 2011 should include a thick mat of dichondra punctuated by white, purple, and pink blossoms. These last will be the primroses planted from seed last year.

How will I explain the lushness to folks who don't know that water isn't really redeemed until it's used?

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*Kurt Vonnegut defined six two-month seasons for areas of cold climate. He added locking between fall and winter and unlocking between winter and spring.
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On February 18, 2013, I found the source of Vonnegut's definition. I had thought it was an essay or speech, but it was in fact the novel Cat's Cradle (Chapter 119):
I had heard it suggested one time that the seasons in the temperate zone should be six rather than four in number: summer, autumn, locking, winter, unlocking, and spring. And I remembered that as I straightened up beside our manhole, and stared and listened and sniffed. There were no smells. There was no movement. Every step I took made a gravelly squeak in blue-white frost. And every squeak was echoed loudly. The season of locking was over. The earth was locked up tight.
It was winter, now and forever. (Reference, Wikiquote).
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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License