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  • Dr. Ted Klontz

The Wisdom of the Weed Patch

There is a special place on this piece of land that I've been given the gift of being able to use. In the summer there is a little patch of wildness that is filled with dozens of different species of wild plants. A casual human observer might call them weeds.

When I stop and look, I see an amazingly diverse community. A crazy mixture of plants; all sizes, shapes and colors. Especially colors. All crowded so close together in a tiny space. A riotous kaleidoscope of color; an orchestra of sounds and movements that rival a dance entourage’s grace.

Though unknowing eyes might judge that they are just weeds. All hopelessly competing and battling for the same piece of real estate, their share of the sun, water, and vying for attention.

What I have learned, is that what I am seeing is nature’s best answer to the residents of this community’s best chance of survival. Each plant, in its own way, attracts pollinators who are essential to their long-term survival. Pollinators who each love their particular color, preferred shape, size, and maturity.

Some plants move in the wind and others turn towards the sun and curl up at night. Some are close to the ground, some reach for the sky. All seducing with their sounds, smells, colors, fruits and movement; an innumerable array of flies, dragonflies, frogs, ants, bees, butterflies, birds, deer, coyote, mountain lions, rabbits, squirrels, armadillo, turkeys and turtles. All pollinators.

Each attracted to their own favorite plant. Unknowingly, perhaps, but just the same, working together to ensure each of these plants survive and reproduce. Pollinators who, while on the way to their favorite morsel, accidentally carry pollen and seeds or drop them, from the plants they brush by. This is nature's way.

Do the members of this weed patch welcome new visitors? Brought on by the wind, dropped by or attached to the pollinators? Do the plants making up the weed patch comprehend that the new visitors who might come and might stay and take up residence - that the chances for all who live there – that their survival just increased?

Or, like our species, far too often, does it have the sense that because there is a new and different visitor that its survival is threatened? I know the answer to that one.

I occupy a slice of this thing called Earth. I am a plant in our species weed patch. A weed. With you being in it, do I see you as making my space, my piece of the pie, smaller?

Am I threatened by your presence? Your mere existence? Do I see you as competing with me for the same space? The same sun? The same water?

Or do I, like the weeds in the weed patch, see your existence as making the pie bigger and thus, my piece bigger? That our variety and differences make survival of all more likely.

Do I recognize that when you join my neighborhood, the chances of my survival is greater because of the unique gifts of your color, shape, fruit, and size?

Political parties, religions and neighborhoods are organized around your and my answer to that question. I notice my answer to that question changes, based on how afraid I feel and how little or how much I trust the universe that it knows what it is doing by creating such a variety of human weeds.

I know nature's answer. I long for that to be consistently my point of view.


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