The tree that will not die

Summer Solstice is near and I can’t ignore my yard any longer with a clear conscience.

I watched some very cheeky weeds rise up in my side yards all winter. But now the sun is out and something inside me snaps. This very day, the weeds must die. (Too much “Game of Thrones”?) Now I need to hunt down my gardening gloves and various other tools that have migrated to odd and hidden places over the past months. They might even be overgrown with weeds somewhere. After finally unearthing the necessary protective clothing, I start to crawl around in the garden, keeping fully in mind that the spiders have had eight or nine months to settle in, and they have made the most of it.
I start to dig up beasts of flora as high as an elephant’s eye and it is rather therapeutic, even as sweat begins dripping off my nose. But the farther down the yard I move, and the longer I weed, the more my judgment shifts. Before long, many of those I classified as weeds begin to look more attractive.
I show no mercy for the leggy dandelions, because they are prickly and have shallow roots, which make them easy to yank up. But suddenly the asparagus ferns, or as I like to call them, the kudzu of Southern California, start looking more decorative. They can be rather attractive and stay a nice color green all year. Maybe I won’t bother pulling them out, I reason. Besides, they just grow back. Then the wild grasses that have sprouted up take on an exotic air. I begin to think that short of a proper ground cover, they will do well enough for now.
Then I come upon my true nemesis: The tree that will not die. We had a tree of unknown species in our side yard. It covered half the roof and annually shed mountains of little, crunchy, brown leaves that smothered everything under them but were impossible to rake up. I finally managed to get that sucker cut down, but its heart will not stop beating. The stump has sprouted, the roots throughout the yard have sprouted and I continue to madly prune it all back. I have poured straight weed killer on it. It just sprouts up somewhere else.
Feeling a bit like Churchill, I vow I shall not suffer this tree to grow back and will never surrender. I wish I could wield a large, sharp axe, although maybe it’s better I don’t. Perhaps there is a combination chain saw and backhoe out there somewhere. If you’re not using yours, please let me know.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who might love the smell of napalm one of these mornings. Contact her at


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