Saturday, June 25, 2005

Peonies and Weeding


Weeding can be a spiritual exercize in the garden. You pull out the crabgrass and think about how deep the roots of wingnuttism might spread, you admire the spider's web and wonder where bin Laden lurks.

You are in control of the weeds, or so you might think if you are a silly wingnut. In truth, the weeds control you and one day they will cover your grave or ashes. So what weeding does is extract some temporary compensation for this final truth. It's also a nice escape from the world if you manage to set aside the political comparisons I started with and just let yourself see, hear, smell and touch.

Today I was weeding under the peonies and almost got drunk on the scent. There is no sexier flower on earth than a full-blown peony. It is heavy, fragile and unbearably scented, and at the end of the weeding session my hands carried the same perfume into the house and onto everything I touched.

Peony buds refuse to open for many days. They sit there, while the sun and the ants, seeking nectar, tickle and kiss the tightly closed petals. The waiting seems endless but then one morning they burst open: flowers so exotic, so soft and silky, so overdone that the only word for them is sexy. Even the way the flowers finally fall apart and cover the ground in a vast silky matt is inviting. I want to lie down under the peonies, I want to roll around on the ground like dogs do. I might even want to be buried under the peonies.