Crab grass grew tall and broad amidst the chocking lily patch, the two nearly indistinguishable: the tares and the wheat, shoots intermingled and roots intertwined. But I discerned the difference, and determined not to condemn the wheat to a life of struggle against the tares, determined to pluck the grass from the midst of the lily shoots. The tares would be yanked and discarded not at the end of the world, but in the immediacy of now. And I am proud to say I did not uproot a single lily by mistaken identity or carelessness, and the weeded lily patch, sans grass, seemed to sparkle clean and green under the enormous Austrian pines, from which hung a small birdhouse of my nondescript design: four walls and a gable roof. A pair of meek and shy Black-capped Chickadees chattered softly at me for pulling the tares so close to their abode, confident enough to flit six feet away, but feeling too vulnerable to fly to the closer birdhouse. “This fall I want to plant bulbs in all these beds,” Dad enthused to me from his chair, where he watched me weed. “You can pick out the bulbs you want.” How wonderful they would be, I imagined, excited at next spring’s prospect. Dad asked me to cut off a large pine bough that hung its long heavy burden exclusively over the fence into the church parking lot. I did, and dragged it around the block into our driveway for later sectioning, moving then to cut out the old deadwood trunks from the arctic blue willow bushes. Dad thought Brian might like the wood for his fountain pen projects—he cuts branches into sanded rings, the bark still on, for pen pillows and pen beds and ink vial stands, which he posts about for admiring fellow fountain pen enthusiasts. Our day’s chores complete, Mom and Dad and I sat at the dinner table enjoying leftover rice casserole, charmed by the long-beaked hummingbird seated momentarily at the feeder, charmed by the ebullient pretty songs of the house finches, charmed by the chickadee couple flitting from the pine boughs to the hole of their humble home.
Pictured above: new lily shoots with the grab grass carefully removed.
Pictured below: my son Brian’s fountain pen accessories,
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