In theory, at least, weeding can be exactly the sort of almost-but-not-quite mindless activity that allows the mind to be alert yet not directly engaged with the task at hand. It can roam free and sometimes throws up ideas worth pursuing later. At the very least, this kind of weeding has a similar effect to that of “mindful meditation.”
Today I noticed that an area by my pond paved with random stone slabs has way too much of a small, weedy grass whose name I don’t know, but which appears every winter. Last winter must have been a good one for it, because there’s more of it than ever before. Even worse, it seems to be going to seed. I had one of those “Something must be done” moments.
I pulled up a few of the grass plants, but soon realized that this was going to be a project.
Leaving the little pile of weedlings, I went to fetch a pair of gloves and a kneeling pad. After an hour or so, the spot looked considerably less fuzzy and the weed pile was a lot bigger. Only the “creeping Jenny” (Lysimachia nummularia) intended to be there remains, along with a few Labrador violets and a bit of moss.
I like moss, especially growing between paving stones. It gives a garden a feeling of age (in the venerable sense) and tranquility. The trouble is, the pesky grass grows right through the moss, and when pulled up its mat of fine roots yanks a out a chunk of moss, leaving a patchy effect and a gardener who is annoyed rather than tranquil. So much for the meditative effect. A set of grass shears is deployed and the grass cut off as close to ground level as possible. Not perfect, but at least the seed heads are gone.
After a couple of hours, the area cleared is pathetically small and the gardener tired. This part of the garden looks splendid, more because of the profusion of spring growth than because of the weeding efforts, but that’s all right.
Even the cat (who has supervised the whole operation) approves, and is happy to join the gardener in a well-deserved rest.