Brendan and I have gone back and forth over the best way to take care of it. The weeds are overgrown, something that would take hours and hours of physical labor for us to eradicate completely. Before quarantine started, Brendan just wanted to pay a professional to come clean everything up. I wanted to save the money and take it upon ourselves to do what we could.
Maybe this is why I’m the writer and he is not, a masochistic need for endless digging and unearthing that is satisfying. Even though it’s a task that’s never done, never something I can cross off the list, there’s a satisfaction in the process, even if at times it can feel like a burden.
I eventually convinced Brendan that, at least for the time being, we should trim the grass and fill our green bin, which gets picked up every other Wednesday.
About a month ago, I was raking up leaves in one part of the yard when a familiar, savory smell wafted up into my nose. I looked down to a patch of weeds I hadn’t gotten to yet. I plucked a few leaves and brought them up to my face for closer inspection. It was thyme.
I swore then and there that I would never write another metaphor again. To find wild patches of thyme growing in your backyard just seemed like there would never be another more perfect symbol of the last several months.
At least, that’s what I thought.
A few weeks later I was back in the yard, using a new app I had downloaded to identify and help me take care of some new plants I had bought. I was scanning the yard when I came across my patches of thyme. What I thought was thyme is actually oregano.
I can’t describe the disappointment I felt in discovering this, realizing that my perfect metaphor had been ruined. And then I felt silly for being disappointed because who gets depressed about fucking weeds?
You could just lie when you write about this, Brendan suggested. Who would know the difference? Me. I would. I strive to find significance in what’s there, to pluck meaning from the raw material I’ve been given. I’ve never been good at writing fiction.
I went online and Googled oregano just to see if I could make anything deeper out of it, to find another, more subtle metaphor. Apparently oregano is Greek for “joy of the mountain.”
I could try to write about finding the joy in this mountain: the way that getting plants has given me a renewed sense of purpose; how working in the yard, working with my hands, gives me a release, a way to connect with the earth even if I can’t go out into the larger world right now.
And maybe someday I will write about all that. But sometimes, a plant is just a plant.