A new garden friend and I sat on the bench, chatting. About plants, of course. She maintains a large xeriscape garden and wished she could keep up with her planned chores rather than cleaning up other people's tumbleweeds, filling up the dumpster each week with the huge, bulky, prickly weeds that blow into her garden.
This one, around the front corner of our house is bigger around than I can reach. And if I did, I'd be full of prickers. I tried to take the photo with my hand holding the base for a size comparison, but I couldn't reach out that far without getting prickers stuck in my sweatshirt. They are too big for a trash can and have to be smashed down or clipped into smaller chunks, or some gardeners burn them down. Last year was a record breaking year for tumbleweeds, the second worst on record, here. I saw a huge one, caught by a gust of wind, blow completely over our roof. Some days the roads are full of them bouncing down the street. Avoiding them with the car is pointless. This year looks to be similar.
I wish I could assure you that in my yard, all the tumbleweeds came from somewhere else. Nope. Sorry. On the sides of the two back sheds, I didn't finish pulling them up last summer and fall. So, I am guilty. Some of those tumbling bundles of prickles are from my yard. If you don't pull them out when they are small, they seem to grow overnight into behemoth monsters, unapproachable and threatening. Don't touch me or you'll get hurt! Leather gloves are a necessity.
Even if you live in an area without these monsters, we all deal with other people's tumbleweeds. Other people's mistakes, messes, hurts, neglect, misunderstandings, spreading their prickers, poking us as we walk through our days. Dealing with problems when they are small is best, but not always possible. Some days it is enough to pull our own weed problems without having to deal with other people's also. But, reality is, it is not always our choice. They are there, tumbling along in front of us.
The answer? Clean up what we can. Be patient. Tackle them one at a time. Be prepared. Know that the seeds are being scattered with every breeze blowing them around. If this one is cleaned up, there will be others sprouting.
Does this all sound depressing? Hopeless? It helps me to know that, as in a garden and learning to take better care of my plants, there are many life lessons intertwined. Weeding is critical. Watering is vital. Neither of those tasks is done once. Over and over and over. Again and again. Daily effort. Life is full of small daily tasks, rinse and repeat. Once in awhile one of our guys tries the line, "But I'll just have to do it again tomorrow. Why not wait till then?" And my response, "Yup, and since the food will just get eaten and the dishes will just get dirty, I might as well wait till tomorrow, or even the day after that to cook, right?" Which of course, doesn't happen.
Other people's tumbleweeds. One at a time. Small steps. Solved, Cared for. And the life and the garden become beautiful and rich.