Meditations from the herb garden: Graduating the seniors

My goal Saturday morning was to weed around the screen porch in order to find room for the flowers I bought last week, but by the time I slept in and enjoyed a mug or two of coffee, the sun was blazing in that part of the yard. The wise weeder seeks shade, and shade was by the herb garden.  Shade is usually over the herb garden by the time I get outside, which is why the herbs are looking pretty good and the screen porch is surrounded by grass stalks.

After some weeding, the chives emerged

After some weeding, the chives emerged.

The herbs are doing amazingly well.  Too well.  The oregano is boldly going where no oregano has gone before.  The fennel is popping up in the midst of all the oregano.  Garlic chives are settling in firmly everywhere.  And the lemon balm overshadows everything.  The regular chives are in there somewhere…I see a bloom or two peeking up…but they are dominated by the other happy aggressive herbs around them.  If I don’t give the chives some space, they are going to disappear.

So Saturday’s task was to open up the chives.  Give them room to grow.  That meant clearing out quite a bit of oregano.  Step one was to snip them and harvest them.  Step two was to pot a few manageable chunks into pots for gifting.  Step three was to rip what was left in the no-oregano-zone with reckless abandon. Ditto for the garlic chives and the lemon  balm.  Twisting and winding amidst it all were vines of gill-over-the-ground needing to be aggressively pulled.

When all the snipping and potting and ripping was done, three chive clusters stood blinking in the daylight.  Three wonderful little chive clusters who will bring me joy when snipped onto my morning eggs.  Three modest chive plants that will grow into impressive blooming plants with an abundance of purply-pink blooms for making chive vinegar.

Sprinkle a little mulch and they won’t look so forlorn.

Those tentative little chive plants reminded me of my juniors in French IV class.  Now that the seniors are gone, they are the class.  All year they were overshadowed by the dominant personalities of the seniors.  They were content to let  those personalities dominate.  They were content to hide behind the upper classmen: the next generation’s leader of the free world; the compulsive talker; the “you know you love me so don’t notice I haven’t  done the homework” schmoozer;  the quiet but practically perfect one; and the pathologically lazy hence always  getting yelled at one.

This week the juniors had oral projects to record.  As I listened to their projects, I was pleasantly surprised by how well they did.  These are the timid ones.  When they speak, their voices barely project to the end of their pencil. But  on the recorders (placed right up to their soft-spoken mouths  and with a volume dial so I can crank the decibals up to human auditory level)  their thoughts and their pronunciation were really quite good.   Like my little chives, there they were –quietly and invisibly competent.   And now, with seniors gone, they are exposed.  And now that they are exposed, they have no choice but to grow.

My herb garden looks a little sparse where I  cleared it.  School looks a little sparse these days too.  There is a gap where the seniors used to  be.  It’s not that they were “weeds” to be yanked.  My overgrown herbs  aren’t weeds–they were planted and nurtured because I wanted them.  But like the herbs taking over the garden,  it is time for the seniors to go.  Their personalities were outgrowing the space.

If senior-itis didn’t announce the need for seniors to move on to bigger and better, the spandex-clad Santas who ran screaming through the school the other day certainly did.  Teacher tolerance for the prank was in direct proportion to how much exposure they have had to seniors–the more exposure, the less tolerance.  Senior pranks are a lot like poison ivy–most teachers are allergic.

The seniors have new gardens to explore.  They will be a little tentative until they get established but then they will thrive.  In the meantime,  they have left space for the juniors to rise up and flourish.  And in two more weeks, even the juniors will be  gone for a bit, giving me some room to flourish.  I’m making no promises about what time I will be rising, but I’m hoping to get the rest of my weeding done.

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