A Weed

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Well, here I am in cold, rainy Indiana. I hardly know what to say, but I’m sure that feeling will pass as my fingers warm from the exertion of typing. It’s taking me much longer than usual to get over my jet lag. I’m up until two or three in the morning and then I sleep until nine or so, four or more hours beyond my normal wake-up. It’s five in the afternoon now and I can hardly hold my eyes open. The body is such a creature of habit, eh?

Now, just as I have you fascinated by my struggle with jet lag, I’ll abruptly switch to another equally enthralling subject – Weeds.

When I went out into Steve and Marta’s lovely suburban yard yesterday and marveled that it was 18:30 and still full daylight, I struggled with my cantankerous mind for a subject with which I might distract myself for an hour or two. I observed the redbuds budding, the flowering plums flowering and the flame maples afire with smoldering seeds. Ah, yes, very nice. Yet some glimmer of shy colour drew me to the back of the lot where a drainage ditch lurks for the clumsy-footed. Yes, here in the neglected corner thrives my favourite weed, the lowly dandelion:

As I fiddled and fretted to compose the ultimate image to express the soul of the dandelion my fevered brain steered recklessly along twisty roads searching for a metaphor like an empty-pack smoker driving around looking for an open shop which still sells cancer-sticks. Suddenly, with a crash of thunder and a flash which temporarily blinded me, the analogy appeared to me. I am a weed.

This goes a long way toward explaining my affinity for dandelions. Dandelions are terribly clever in the arts of survival. I think that’s why they thrive where other weeds perish for lack of the social skills necessary to successful flora. Dandelions are not too awfully ugly. In fact, they exhibit certain charms. The flower is cheery by weed standards. Who can deny the handsomeness of a full, healthy dandelion blossom? The dandelion lies low. It is not erect and proud as the bolder, but more imperiled weeds. When it is not in bloom only the more critical lawn owners take much notice of it, especially as long as the dandelion does not stray into the front yard. Stay in your place, dandelion. The dandelion has a fabled past and appeals to our sense of humour. It is the clown of weeds. It dresses in bright raiment in the early spring. As the season wears on it adopts a comical fluffy head which amuses children and less inhibited adults by coming utterly unglued with the slightest puff from smiling lips. The bright blossoms, harvested in the spring, make an amusing wine with little effort. In the fall, it hides away quietly, leaving hardly a trace.

Yes, I am a weed. A special weed. A weed which is learning the tricks. I’m a dandelion. Trample me, if you must. Spray me. Go ahead, try to yank me up; I’ll come back bigger and more tenacious. I’m a tough customer and you’ll not soon be rid of me. But, if you can cut me some slack and give me a little room in the back corner of the lot, I’ll put on a pretty show for a while and do my best to amuse you.

Daffodils, on the other hand, have no weedy characteristics. They beg for nurture. A hard frost will be fatal. They need their space and it had better be in a good neighborhood or they will sulk:

This is a rather strange daffodil which I have not seen before. Frankly, I don’t think it’s as pretty as the ones with the little trumpet in the middle. I think it’s called a Double Golden Ducat, but I’m not sure.

This is the only time of the year that anybody notices a Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis):

This is their fifteen minutes of fame.

Up close, the redbud blossoms are rather pretty, if minuscule:

It takes a lot of them to make an impression. Think of them as poor people. You hardly notice one or two. It usually takes crowds of them to attract any attention at all.

The deep shades of magenta painting the blossoms of the Flowering Plum tree stand out against the new green leaves which shall soon become darker than the flowers:

It was getting darker as I took these shots. The light was very flat under the cold, threatening sky. I had to boost the ISO on my G11 to 400 to get a decent shutter speed.

The tiny helicopter seeds of the maple tree share the same tint as the plum:

Okay, I think I have plants out of my head for a little while. However, my wrist now itches.

Whenever I come to North America, I have to buy a new watch. Believe me, I’d rather live on Tropic Time for which something as superfluous as a timepiece is not required. In Madang things happen when they need to happen, not a moment sooner (though sometimes hours later):

I have a bag full of old watches at home, the batteries of which have all turned turned to sickly green mush with little scraps of silvery stuff sticking out at odd angles. Never mind. I have not paid more than $6.99 for a watch for decades. I broke my record this time at Wal*Mart (Yes, I know – don’t say it). I had to pay $7.50 for this stunning “Sport Watch”. When I say “I had to pay” that’s misleading. In actuality, I was chauffeured to Wal*Mart by friends Ed and Becky who cared for my worldly needs in Honolulu. They bought me some food and a watch. Hey, I’m not proud. I could have done without the “Sport Watch” label which makes me feel slightly more ridiculous than usual. Oh, well. One can’t expect perfection for seven and a half bucks, eh?

I have one last item of intense interest to the traveling public. It doesn’t fit anywhere else, so I’ll throw it in here. I rode from Phoenix to Indianapolis via US Airways on an airplane which was quite obviously falling apart as we watched. I was suspicious from the beginning when I noted that the armrests had ashtrays built in. It’s been a long time since I saw that. There were bits and pieces of ceiling trim falling down. My fellow passenger’s seat would not stay in the reclined position, so, being an old-fashioned gentleman, I traded seats with her so that she could better sleep. As I began to fill the time with skeptical examination of our winged chariot I was more and more alarmed:

Hey, there’s a screw loose right in front of my eyes! I took a picture, of course. Many of these little caps were missing entirely. In fact, great sections of the side trim of the seats which cover the mechanism and prevent snagged clothing were absent without leave. In the toilet the rim of the contraption had chunks missing, as if attacked by a madman with something more sturdy than those dinky little plastic knives they give you which refuse to cut butter. The holes had been filled in by some substance resembling Silly Putty.

As the line in California Dreamin’ goes, “I began to pray.” This kind of blatant, in-your-face neglect does not inspire confidence. I kept thinking, “If they let me see this, what horrors are they hiding from me? What do the engines look like, for pity’s sake?”

Anyway, here I am, despite US Airways best efforts to kill me. I say, “Neeeaaaahhh – missed me. GO ON, TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT. You can’t hurt a man with nothing to lose!”

As a parting blessing for you, I give you a man who is much worse off than I. Tom Dickson is a fellow who has somehow been coerced into taking seriously one of the most insanely trivial, culturally degraded and irresponsibly numbskulled jobs on the planet. Somebody pays this guy to show us what happens when we try to blend things which ought not to be blended. He begins the insufferably wacky demonstration with the words, “For years people have been asking us to blend Silly Putty.” Yes, I am sure that for a great many of us this question has robbed us of sleep and done irreparable damages to our psyches for decades – “What would happen if I tried to blend a big blob of Silly Putty?” I know that I have suffered greatly while longing for an answer. If you want to be enlightened, watch this.

Good night and good luck in your future life.


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25 Responses to “A Weed”

  1. Jay Griffin Says:

    “A wizard arrives precisely when he means to.” –Gandalf

  2. kristy Says:

    No weeds for us yet, only tulips and prom pics! Glad you made it safely, we always have a hard time with jet lag, a good book bedside is our best remedy.

  3. Chris Says:

    Yes, I do believe that US Airways may be scarier than Air Niugini.

  4. MadDog Says:

    A bit cryptic, Jay, but witty, as usual. I’m going to enjoy some long talks with you, mate. I’m so looking forward to a time of relief. I’m yearning for some tears of happiness for a change. Expect a flood, man. Tell your mom to bring tissues to the airport.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, the word “prom” has not entered my mind for ages. I hope you’re getting the warm and fuzzies from the images. Tulips, I can take or leave. I don’t know why people get so excited by them. I believe it is the only flower to have caused a major economic disaster.

    I think I’m finally over my jet lag. I drugged myself to sleep at eleven last night and awoke at seven. I think I got through about a half a page before I passed out.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Hard to imagine, ain’t it, Chris? An airline more frightening than Air Niugini. I never thought I’d see the day . . .

  7. CarolBeth Says:

    EgyptAir: Seats held down with duct tape. One seat fell backwards on takeoff. Pilot was a hot dog, took it in wayyyyy too fast and landed with about 8 or 9 HARD bounces. No chickens on this flight, though…I’m talking the bird kind. The US pilot that was with us was visibly praying…I guess he’d do for a chicken. Or a wise man. We DID survive…

  8. Globaldrifter Says:

    Wiser words have not been written. I guess (hope) that in the end we’re all weeds, despite our pretensions and entitlements. But what are you doing in North America, the armpit of this fading and very ugly empire? Get back to Madong where you belong! We depend on your continued sanity.

  9. Ali Says:

    We had an MBA (Milne Bay Air PNG- now defunct) flight similar to the one of which you describe CarolBeth…however there WERE chickens….of both the feathered and the human kind. I don’t like to fly much and always look to my partner, (who is a pilot) for confidence in times of anxiety. On this particular flight I looked over to see him adopting the “crash position” EEEEEK!
    We also survived, but guess who came home by boat? ha ha ha

  10. MadDog Says:

    I don’t imagine that it would be surprising to see chickens on such a flight, Carol Beth. The winged kind. Thanks for the story.

  11. MadDog Says:

    Globaldrifter, it’s my humble opinion that we might all do well to aspire to weedhood. It would probably become a much more peaceful world. Though they are considered pests, they seem to play nice with each other. Weeds compete with the less vigorous, nurtured and pampered flora. Among themselves, they seem to live and let live. We could learn some lessons from weeds.

    I’m in no huge rush to get back to Madang. I’ve earned some R&R and I’m beginning to enjoy it. However stressful life in America may be for me, it’s different. That’s what I need for a while. Different.

    Regarding your comment about the demise of the empire, I can’t say that I disagree. No empire has lasted forever. You do well not to confine the concept to America. It’s a world-wide phenomenon. It seems as if what we call civilisation itself is coming ungled. What could possibly come next? The mind boggles!

  12. MadDog Says:

    Oh, good, Ali. You’re back. I was wondering if you would chime in on this one. I suspected that you may have seen the winged variety on an airplane somewhere. Did Dave bring them? It would not surprise me. His safety-inspired posture was simple erring on the side of caution.

  13. Ali Says:

    Bonjoir Monsieur Chien Fou,
    Hey …..speaking of chicks in planes….. “Skysisters” is in full swing here at the Drop Zone here in down town Toogoolawah and despite some pooey weather to start with, it is all going well, with Aussie and world womens skydiving records being set. Yahooo!
    Girls girls girls (over 100)…. I think you would really have enjoyed the visuals here Mr Mad Dog! tee hee. I will send you some pics when it’s all over.
    Good to hear that you are “getting into” your travels and I look forward to each and every MPBM from OS.
    Lots a luv. xx

  14. MadDog Says:

    Bonjoir, mon petit chou,
    I’d love to be there, Ali. Do you get many mature, well-to-do ladies looking for a wild man? The weather here has been very trashy. I checked out the Skysisters’ web site and the clip on YouTube. Cool! I can’t believe what I’m missing.

  15. Ali Says:

    I think you may have been spoilt by the variety. There were lots of lovelies here and many were mature (in years anyway) but were also rather “Crazy by Choice”.
    Will we book you in for the next meeting of the “Sisterhood” ????
    I think the SS facebook site will have some good pics too- I have not checked it yet tho??
    Take it easy fella. x

  16. MadDog Says:

    Yes, I missed that one, but I’ll shoot for the next. I’m taking it any way I can get it, Ali.

  17. Ali Says:

    That’s the way! Take it all, but take care doin’ it…….
    Actually, forget that last bit… GO FAST- TAKE CHANCES! tee hee

  18. MadDog Says:

    Ali, I don’t know if I told you this. After I did my jump I went up for another ride in the Caravan. When I got back there were no steps by the door, so I sat on the edge with my parachute on and looked down. I decided that I could hop out safely, Unfortunately, I forgot to look straight down. My glasses, through the lower part, make things look much closer. When I hopped off the edge the ground was much further away than I thought. My “medical problem” which I reported was probably a result of that tumble. Anyway, it is okay now. Exposure to risk is not always recognised, eh?

  19. Ali Says:

    Jan you did tell us about the tumble out the door……It is a long way down with an un-open parachute on your back……
    I must say that I was very happy and releived at the time, when you told me that you had not hurt yourself . (that you were confessing anyway???) mmm?
    I am so sorry that this caused you yet another worry that you certainly didn’t need right now.
    We also discussed your particular medical concern as I had suffered a very similar thing in Madang last year and ended up at the hospital. I see where the fall could be related to your problem. I am only glad that the news was good and all is OK now.
    Hey….it only goes to show that skydiving is safe…..but that last step is a DOOZY!!

  20. MadDog Says:

    Ali, my new glasses make it even worse. I’ve been stumbling on stairs since I first put them on. Wow, I can see much better than I have for many years, but I’ve nearly killed myself a couple of times. I didn’t notice any symptoms until I got back to Gympie when two fingers on my left hand went numb. Oh, well, it now matches my right hand, which has had the same two tingly fingers since I nearly ripped my right arm off in a water skiing mishap twenty-five years ago. I’ll soon be completely symmetrical. The other symptom has since disappeared, according to my latest test. I remember when you were very crook in Madang. That was scary.

  21. Globaldrifter Says:

    Are the two little fingers going numb? If so, sounds like the radial nerve, which can get impinged around C7. If so, may be time to stretch the neck, bro.

  22. MadDog Says:

    Globaldrifter, expand a little on that neck stretch idea. I could use some relief, but I want to be careful about such things. I’m afraid of chiropractors.

  23. Globaldrifter Says:

    MadDog. First the obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a Doctor.

    For neck stretching all I meant was as gentle stretch of the neck to give decompress the disks between your neck vertebra. No special Chiropractic techniques needed. Just hold your neck on both sides with your hands, fingers towards the back, thumbs next you your clavicle. Then push up a little with your shoulders against my hands. This pushes your hands up against the base of the skull, relieving weight on your neck. Can be done laying down, standing up, anytime. I also find it helpful to stretch one side at a time, gently pushing the skull over one hand while pushing from the side with the other.

    The impingement could be near C7 (base of neck) or between the neck and shoulders. If this doesn’t help you may need to find the exact point of the impingement.

  24. Globaldrifter Says:

    All the above assumes that you are dealing with a minor impingement of the Radial Nerve. Could be many other causes, but this is a very common one, especially for computer uses, poor posture folk, compression of neck accidents, spurs (arthritis) in the neck…

  25. MadDog Says:

    Globaldrifter, I suspect that it is some kind nerve pinch in my neck. If I get up the courage, I’ll give the neck stretch a try.