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At dawn this morning, before the heat of the day, I headed into the meadow in front of our house here at Vanaprastha. I wrote about the challenges of this meadow and ‘native plants’ in a post last spring. Ten days ago, the landscapers completed the installation. Now it was up to us to water and weed.

GrassPlantWeedsI moved around the edge of the meadow, stepping careful among the new plantings. A welcome breeze lifted the smell of sweet alyssum into the air. It was easy to identify a weed when it sprouted next to a grass plug. It also seemed easy to target a bunch of them amid the grasses and alyssum, annuals seeded to outcompete the weeds until the meadow became established. I reached for what I thought was weed behind another weed and grass plug. Before pulling and pitching, I looked more closely. It was a wood aster.

Usually I look for weeds masquerading as plants, like the words of Folly masquerading as Wisdom in Proverbs 9. But this time for me it was the other way around. Why was it so hard to tell the difference?

“You that are simple, turn in here!” calls Lady Wisdom.

“You who are simple, turn in here!” calls Lady Folly.

The words are almost the same, but keep listening.

To those without sense Folly says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

Secretly creeping into the meadow, senseless weeds take hold overnight. They usurp the soil’s pleasant nutrients and steal the sweet water that falls from heaven’s rain and earth’s sprinkler.

And what does Lady Wisdom offer to those without sense? “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

“Eat and drink! Lay aside immaturity, and live!” That is what I say to the grasses—sedge, river oats, tufted hair grass, Virginia wild rye, switch grass, little bluestem—and the plants—wood aster, bee balm, goat’s beard, bellflower, coneflower, fleabane, sunflower, goldenrod, yarrow, indigo, and meadow anemone.

I do not believe that plants are sentient beings, but I am. So it is up to me to discern plants from weeds, Wisdom from Folly, and walk in the way of insight.