25 September 2007


Saturday morning, I decided it was time to pull weeds from my herb'n'rose garden. The following weed, at first, was charming. It was a velvety layer of green carpet, covering the empty space between my plants: sharppoint fluvellin. After not too long, however, this little guest plant became the annoying friend who overstayed his visit. Time to get out Mr. Fluvellin! I've had enough of you. And you're choking my oregano. Absolutely rude.

Let me tell you what a nasty weed it is. It's sticky. It falls apart if it's not grown up enough, only to scatters its dozens of tiny seeds all over the garden bed. And, apparently, this one lone bee who came from who knows where was absolutely offended that I was pulling these weeds.

About 3/4 of the way done, this bee starts circling around me in a maddened fashion, obviously upset that I am removing his habitat. Of course, I am unreasonably afraid of bees (never been stung) so I start running figureeights, loops, and untraceable squiggles around my front yard. Like a crazy woman.

I observe the bee from afar, and I see it crawling all over the weed that's still in the garden bed. Oh, its taking it's sweet little time, probably dropping its little pollen all over the weed to make it spread like even more wildfire. Fortunately, my roommate's presence apparently drives bees away because when I asked her to come out to bear witness to this neurotic, lone bee (where was his hive? was he kicked out for not properly pollinating more select flowers? reduced in his loneliness to pollinating weeds?). And the bee did not come out, so I finished my gardening.

Later on, I began to tackle another rampant spreader in my yard: crabgrass. You've seen it--when let go, it appears like a wheatfield of very thin stalks. I'm trying to do this organically. So, I have a container of cinnamon bark that has been ground up to a fine, white powder, and as I start sprinkling it all over the front lawn, I know people who pass by will wonder.

Sure enough, this woman walks by, and she asks, "Hormigas?"

No, not a variation of a Tex-Mex breakfast dish. Ants. I shake my head, and I respond in English, "I'm trying to kill crabgrass with organic cinnamon bark." When I'd told my boyfriend about it, he asked why I didn't respond to her in Spanish. I explained that I didn't know the words for crabgrass, bark, or organic in Spanish.

It occurs to me then, how much I am becoming less and less bilingual. I stopped speaking Spanish on a daily basis when I left for college. So, is my Spanish vocabulary stuck at the 12th grade level? Why wouldn't my family have talked about crabgrass, bark, and organic things before I was 18? Are these things only adult matter? Maybe crabgrass isn't in daily Mexican culture vocabulary. Maybe killing it organically isn't in the vocabulary either. Maybe we'd just mow it down. Results are much quicker that way. And it would leave more time for killing hormigas and eating migas.


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