Reasoning With Weeds

You can’t reason with weeds.  Although they are knowledgeable about their environment and, they do seem to understand why they exist, and how to accomplish their goals, they are not capable of reasoning, because, unlike you or me, they can’t change their minds.  Like cancer cells, all they can do is: proliferate, refuse to die, steal nutrients, and spread like crazy.

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Kneeling in the Church of the Creator on the sand prairie at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail, digging and pulling spotted knapweed, hungry for someone to reason with, I called on the master, Thomas Paine.  The Age of Reason is a profoundly stimulating and liberating work, and the world would be a better place if every man, woman and child would read or listen to it at least once a year.

All the knowledge man has of science and of machinery, by the aid of which his existence is rendered comfortable upon earth, and without which he would be scarcely distinguishable in appearance and condition from a common animal, comes from the great machine and structure of the universe. The constant and unwearied observations of our ancestors upon the movements and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, in what are supposed to have been the early ages of the world, have brought this knowledge upon earth. It is not Moses and the prophets, nor Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, that have done it. The Almighty is the great mechanic of the creation; the first philosopher and original teacher of all science. Let us, then, learn to reverence our master, and let us not forget the labors of our ancestors.  The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine

This is the first summer I ever focused on weeds and, I’m happy to say, it hasn’t caused an identity crisis for The Buckthorn Man.  Pulling weeds is a fine way to intimately connect with woodlands and prairies.

On Tuesday, August 12, I started the day with my brush cutter at the trailhead sprucing up the old buckthorn alley.  It’s not an alley anymore, and the sunlight hitting the buckthorn seedlings, and the stumps we didn’t poison last winter, is causing explosive growth.  I’m trying to decide whether to re-cut and poison these sprouts this fall, or, let them grow and wait for the DNR to burn the area again.

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In the afternoon, I pulled spotted knapweed on the northwest end of the sand prairie.  The ground was relatively wet and most of the plants came out root stem and all.

Before …

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… and after

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The sand prairie is looking better than it has in many years!

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Later, after a refreshing bath and a little yoga on the marl pit bridge…

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… I visited my favorite spots,

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… and watched the sun set from the boat dock at Ottawa Lake.

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Our deconstruction of the flumes just below the Scuppernong Spring was almost complete, save some old pipes and stakes that supported the structure.

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Thursday morning was perfect for playing in the river, and I soon had them all dug out.

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Here is the view of the spring just below the deck that Todd, Ben and I recently repaired.

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The sand prairie is amazingly beautiful and every minute I spend pulling and digging spotted knapweed there is totally satisfying.  I was ready for a cool dip after gardening in the sand all afternoon.

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Anyone recognize this woodland flower?

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Sunset at the marl pit bridge.

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Despite blisters and sore hands, I was back at it on Friday, mowing weeds around the marl pit bridge and pulling burnweed along the cut-off trail, near the old marl factory.

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I spent the afternoon on the sand prairie, in the church that is my mind, listening to Thomas Paine’s brilliant sermons, and digging spotted knapweed.

Later, I ran into my new friends Joe and Kellie, this time with their family, at the tail end their Ottawa Lake camping adventure.  Peace.

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See you at The Springs!

4 thoughts on “Reasoning With Weeds

  1. Now I can’t get that song out of my mind! Beautiful pictures as always… If I can get ‘The Age of Reason’ on CD, I’ll listen to it while I walk Sadie. I think I was supposed to read it in college, but somehow graduated without anyone realizing that I skipped it! In these unreasonable times, the title alone sounds reassuring… (Was there a time when things made sense?)

  2. Paul….. If I may may a suggestion. Cutting in Buckthorn Alley will make dead fuel for a burn. Letting it grow may not allow enough material to accumulate for a burn.

    • Thanks Rich.

      Good point but, leaving them grow produces leaves, which make good fuel too. And, if the DNR burns next year (or even this Fall) it is possible that that would be enough to check their growth. Then I we could spend time cutting new areas of mature buckthorn instead.

      I don’t like looking at all the resprouts and, given the rate they are growing, I’m more inclined to cut and poison them this year as you suggest, even though it will be very tedious to do so.

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