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Slices of Life: Procrastinaton and pulling weeds

My garden needs weeding. Oh, does it need it. It happens about this time every year. I start out strong, but then summer gets away from me and the weeds are miracle growing like they’ve been fertilized from the heavens.

How do the weeds grow so fast? Mother Earth likes to decorate her canvas and her medium of choice (weeds) are in the eye of the beholder.

My garden needs weeding. Unlike Mother Nature, I can differentiate between a weed and a zinnia or tomato plant. I sow and nurture the latter. Weeds need neither of those. They just grow, in places most unwanted — between my pepper plants, in amongst the basil and even between cracks in the sidewalk. They are everywhere. I know what I must do. What I should do. 

I should weed. I should take the time. Stop procrastinating.

I have no problem pulling the weeds by their roots. I celebrate a long taproot pulled from the soil because I know a progeny will not be soon forthcoming. I have no problem killing — when it comes to weeds. 

Except my son interrupts me before I can start. He needs a ride somewhere and then a ride home and in between there is hardly time for the garden so I think maybe later this afternoon or even tomorrow.

And later in the afternoon the sun shines from high above and the air is still and I know it is not time for weeding — unless I want to fall over in a sweaty, sticky, dehydrated mess. 

Tomorrow comes and it is time for me to weed the garden. 

Except my daughter calls, wondering if I might be able to watch the baby for just a bit — a bit meaning a couple of hours. How can I say anything but yes to that? Holding a baby or pulling a weed, there’s no debate; the choice is obvious.

I should weed. But there are other tasks to do. I work from home, I remind others and myself. I can’t just drop everything willy-nilly and weed the garden. I have deadlines. I have words to put to paper. Words, unlike weeds, do not grow on their own. They must be tended to.

So the weeds grow taller and taller, challenging my tomato plants for sun and space and soil. Two, in particular, have taken root — made a strong claim — in a container. I want to see what they will be. They are at least three feet high –— astonishing growth accomplished during a mere week-long absence on my part. It’s as though Mother Nature gives them an unfair advantage because she knows the odds are stacked against them.

I needed to weed the garden. I knew I couldn’t avoid the job forever. Not if I wanted my tomato plants to produce. So yesterday I tackled the task: woman versus weeds.  It actually went quicker than expected because you know what? Weeds are easier to reach and pull when they are large.

So maybe procrastination isn’t such a bad thing after all. At least when it comes to weeds.

— Jill Pertler’s column appears Wednesdays in the Times. She can be reached at