Talkin’ to a Weed

Nature is full of surprises. Without trickery or manipulative devices, it can make a mockery of seeming impossibilities.

* * *

The ability to communicate is written in the genetic code of the universe.  Who are we to say that weeds can’t talk?

Ok, maybe it is a reach to say that all nature can communicate. Some may say the thesis is thinner than soup boiled from the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death. But there’s a point here, so stay with me.

People talk, dogs bark, birds sing, crickets chirp, cats meow, cows moo, ducks quack and pigs squeal, just to name a few. What is being said? It takes special linguists to discern the communication, but it’s possible.

People talk, that’s certain. Tongues, eyes, fingers, body language and facial expressions. Around our house simple guttural grunts say a lot…uh., oh, hmmm, ah and the like. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. I have been known to talk to my grocery list and regularly to our dog.

My friend Bernie and his horse once spent a month camping in the Grand Teton mountains.  I asked him about it. He said he talked a lot with his horse, but he knew it was time to return home when the horse talked back. Take that for what it’s worth.

Anyway, I’m walking to the beach with the dog the other morning and pass one of those large orange construction cones you see along the roadway. It’s sitting in the grass beside the road. Something odd about it arrests my attention so I stop to investigate.

Growing out of the top of the cone is a weed. I edge closer for a look. Out of the inch or so diameter in the top of the cone, the weed has found a way to emerge from the darkness below. A miracle of life.

Touched by its urge to live, I ask, “Weed, how did you find a way out of the dungeon below?” Silence. I wait and listen. Nothing stirs but the breeze.

I taunt it a little. “Hey, you’re no burning bush, what gives?”

“And you’re no Moses, buster. That asphalt you’re standing on is not holy ground either.” An insult for an insult. I figure we are square.

I venture on. “How did you manage to escape from the horror of the great darkness below?”

“Same as you, brother. It’s called the will to live. I was once a seed, and with a spark of light I germinated. And now here I am, basking in the glorious sunlight, happy as the other clovers below, just in a more lofty place.” Judging from its perch and its urge to talk, I assume it’s a female clover.

“Look, Weed, how did enough sunlight get down that narrow shaft long enough to sustain you?”

“Are you stupid? I’m a weed. Weeds are tough. We grow in the most inhospitable places. Personally, I prefer manicured lawns, but I’m equally comfortable in this left-over construction cone. Look, there’s my cousin growing on the road you’re standing on. Left alone, in a couple of years weeds would obliterate this road. Take my advice, better not stand in one place too long with weeds around.”

What do you know, a weed with wisdom? Nature is full of surprises.  I move on to the beach where I catch up with my walking companions, Matt and Molly, and their dogs.

I show them the photo of the miracle weed growing from the tip of the cone. They are as incredulous as I am. I recite the conversation I had with the weed. They roll their eyes but probably assume dementia is setting in, so they give me space in respect of age.

I like to name my photos, so I ask what name they’d apply to this one. Didn’t take Matt long for a comeback: ‘Perseverance,’ he says. I am affirmed since his appellation aligned with mine: ‘Determination.

“Ok, Molly, what’s your title?”

Without hesitation she says, ‘Misplaced.’  I ask her the rationale for such a name.

“Oh, I was naming the cone, not the weed. It’s in the wrong place. The weed’s name is ‘Light,’ the secret of life.” Such is the insightful mindset of women.

* * *

Returning, I tell the weed its name. I think it’s pleased.

A few steps farther I think I hear, “…and the light shineth in darkness and the darkness overcame it not.” I look back, the weed winks.


Bud Hearn

October 18, 2021