WILD GREEN THINGS

When I returned home from two weeks at the beach, wild things greeted me -- crabgrass, plantain, and thistle, other weeds I didn't know by name. Some had grown knee high, some crept across grass, all waited for me to try to get rid of them. I went in the house and shut the door, cranked up the AC, and pretended they were not there. The next morning they waved their feckless leaves in the breeze at me. I shut the door and went to my office to revise a story that had been giving me fits.

I retrieved a book on revision from the bookshelf, next to it a book on weeds that I had saved from a discard pile at the public library over thirty years ago. I went back to my revision work, my thought: Why do we spend time pulling weeds? Why do we write only to have our work discarded by time?

I picked up the book and browsed through it, studying the beautiful drawings inside and considering the title:  WILD GREEN THINGS IN THE CITY: A Book of Weeds. Written and illustrated by Anne Ophelia Dowden, it was published in 1972 in the USA, Belgium and Canada. The author wrote about the weeds of New York City. As I reread her opening words, I came to a paragraph that made me think of writing and what we writers must do.

"What do we call them -- wild flowers or weeds, a joy or a nuisance, loved or unloved? They are the orphan plants of a great city -- the neglected, the trampled upon, the underprivileged. But isn't it cheering to see a small but beautiful dandelion fighting its way to sunlight between a brick, a bottle, and a tin can in some dingy vacant lot; of a milkweed shoot breaking through an asphalt driveway by its sheer urge to be alive?"

We write, we revise, we persist. We live.