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Wednesday, 08 December 2010


By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr


One summer day, I was in South Carolina visiting my childhood home and was walking along a dirt road on the farm when I noticed a beautiful sight. It was a weed – taller than the others and the light was hitting it just right.

Ohhh, I sighed as I grabbed my camera and took several shots. I chose the one I liked best, enlarged and framed it. I named it Roadside Beauty. And that got me to thinking.

That weed was as pretty as any flower I ever saw. But that weed gets no credit for its beauty. A beautiful flower is ooohed and aaaahed over.

Ah yes – the flower that was blooming so beautifully was carefully planted in just the right soil, carefully watered and fertilized. It was planted in just the right spot to get enough sun and/or shade.

The weed just grew – with no attention, no special care – it made do with where it landed. It grew into a Roadside Beauty. Now that Beauty is not the Beauty of a cultivated pampered flower. No, it’s a special unique beauty.

People look at a weed and say things like: pull it up, get rid of it, kill it, spray it with some poison, we don’t want it to spoil our beautiful planned garden. There is no place for weeds there.

So a weed is unwanted, different, and not pretty (by the usual norms). The weed is rejected, an outsider, and an outcast and unappreciated.  It is left on its own, it is not supported or taken care of in any way.

But does that defeat the weed – oh no. She is a survivor!! She says, “I will take care of myself, I will survive, I will make do and in fact I will manage under the harshest conditions. I am independent and unique!

You know, I think I am a weed. And, after thinking about it, I don’t think that upsets me. In fact, I like it.

The weed reminds me of our society. We treat the minorities and the poor much like we treat weeds. It seems to me that they have to work twice as hard as anybody else to get whatever they might want or need. We don’t make it easy for them. We don’t support or pamper them. We reject them, make them outsiders and outcasts. We don’t take the time to look carefully and see the different kind of beauty in each one. Nooo, we’re looking for what everybody calls beauty.

What if we took the time and interest to see the special unique beauty in each one - then we’d all be flowers. We’d be loved and appreciated for who we are, what we are and our differences would make us even more interesting and attractive.

We’d be like the flower garden that my Aunt Lois always had. She planted a little bit of anything and everything. So in her garden, the flowers were different - some tall, some short, some colorful, some not, different sizes, shapes, colors. Each flower was unique, special in its own right.

So, I like being a weed – on my own, making my life, fighting my own battles and surviving. I like being independent, different and I like my own special kind of beauty. Certainly it is not easy being a weed. It does force you to find the core of yourself and use strengths and talents that you never knew you had.

A weed is different. Different is not a synonym for bad.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Mary, I love this metaphor and what you do with it. Just reading it makes me happy.

Very nice piece, this meditation on a weed.

This is such a beautiful story that I am taking the liberty of forwarding it to my friends.

Thank you for your insight and of writing it so wonderfully.

Mary - Nice story!

"A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." (Ralph Waldo Emerson) - Sandy

Is it true that flowers are just pretty weeds?

I loved this story today, Mary.

I think I'm a weed,too and damned proud of it.....

It looks like Pampas grass to me. In Japan, some three-hundred year old homes are thatched with the stalks.
Lovely story, lovely photo.

I'm so thankful that you are a weed and that you can so eloquently share such a beautiful testament to diversity. Thank you, Mary!

You may be a weed, but you're not an invasive species!

It makes me think of the extremely dysfunctional children that my daughter works with. She sees their humanity and always finds a way to let them know.

Thank you all for your comments and compliments. I think I'll share some of my other work regarding weeds. It's been a passion for at least a year.

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