A RUN IN THE BACKYARD IS GOOD FOR THE DOG. So the dog heads up the hill on the run, far up the hill, with the world behind him. Three thousand vertical feet later the dog looks over the ever beautiful Lake Blanche. Dogs do not belong along the lake in this watershed area, but then this dog is but a metaphor for me. Now and again a dog should run free. The breeze picks up as the sun goes behind a cloud. Soon enough when Matthew arrives there will be work to be done, counting to be done. Now the free high air is its own reward, the way it is and will always be for someone who still runs trail after four dozen sprained ankles.
When Matthew gets here, we will start again our search for Dodie.
WILD LOVE AMONG THE NATIVES I have a breakfast date with Linaria. Linaria needs a lot of attention and tends to get out of hand. I do what I can to make a difference, but no matter how much attention I give, it may be never enough. Linaria is a weed, an unwanted species in a natural area where I work.
A natural area? Who wouldn’t want that? Not Linaria. Linaria is an unwanted guest where only native species should be. And what is a native species? Someone else more wise than me has determined what is native and what is not. What I need know is that Linaria is not. Not native, not to this place where I volunteer: the Red Butte Garden and Arboretum.
There is plenty of weeding to do in the public gardens given over to more well known plants and shrubs and trees. The idea of weeding the hills above seems absurd. Perhaps it is unreasonable to think one can remove what is already so well established where it should not be. In matters of plants native and not, I have left it to another to determine what should be and what should not. I do what I can to help for nothing. In the ultimate pay scale where it counts, nothing matters little in the pocket, but the rewards are infinite. I have found my wild love among the natives. Among the natives I find myself in love with life, what must be the greatest love affair of all.
There is love of life in the giving and the taking. I remember this as I am taking Butter and Eggs for breakfast. Butter and Eggs is a common name for Linaria vulgaris. I am taking Butter and Eggs out of the ground soft with rain. I am hurling Butter and Eggs all over the hillsides. The seed pods are not yet formed so I can throw the weeds wherever I will. Just so long as Butter and Eggs, Linaria vulgaris, is out of the ground where it does not belong. On the hillside I rip this weed out by its roots from under rocks. In some small way each pull makes a difference.
If Linaria vulgaris were not pulled out, it would quickly overwhelm the hills. The hills would be alive with the sound of Matthew Utley. Butter and eggs would be everywhere and the native would be lost. Linaria outcompetes the natives. My tutor the wise one Matthew calls it a noxious and odious creature. Plants are like people to Matthew. Some species need help. The natives need help. We are the ones to do it. So we rip out Linaria vulgaris sometimes known as Linaria dalmatica, we rip it out with relish.
Weeds love the hillside rocks. Weeds like linaria seek out a place under a rock for cool comfort in the heat of day and for radiant heat in the evening and cold night beyond. Weeds are just like the desirable native plants in this. Could one possibly see a weed is just a plant in the wrong place at the wrong time? Weeds are like people that way.
Matthew doesn’t treat the weeds like people, the way he does the other plants. His tone of voice is different. These weeds get no sympathy from him. So they get less love from me. I listen to one more wise than me. We rip the hell out of linaria. Butter and eggs will have to make room for our heaven, where the native plants may flourish again. Neither of us twists an ankle on the steep hillside so the day is a success.
As we head down the trail, I notice a huge population of dandelions sprouting all over the hillside. Mountain dandelion makes your home dandelion seem like a mosquito next to T Rex. We are going to leave what are weeds in you lawn where they are on the hillside. Because they are native. How we see things comes down to a matter of place. A native on the hillside is the enemy in your lawn. Or not. The dandelion in your lawn may be unwanted, but it might well be a fine addition to your dinner salad.