Think of this story like you would think of an unsharpened pencil: try not to resent its total lack of a point.
First of all, my family doesn’t tend to have the best luck with cars. We’ll send a car that’s been making a weird noise to the shop and it’ll come back still making a noise, just a different one. As my sister described the result of the most recent repairs, less like a vacuum cleaner and more like a perturbed hornet. We tend to baby our cars, as a result.
And we treat out lawn mowers the same way–gingerly. It’s not a happy day when you admit to the parents that you’ve broken the belt or tried to reverse with the blades down. Mortifying, actually.
Anyway, by now I’ve generally been taught what a riding mower can and can’t run over. I am always to avoid the enormous, hardened ant palaces that pepper any yard in southern Arkansas in the summer. I am not to get too ambitious during a wet season, but mow the low spots on the highest setting. Yadayadayadaya, we know all this, Jo. Get to the point.
But there isn’t any point, remember?
Today I mowed part of a pasture that was mostly wet and which contained many ant mounds and thistles. Accordingly, I mowed on the highest setting and scrupulously avoided the ants, especially after I hit the first one and a cloud of dust ballooned over the yard, no doubt carrying with it half a population of ants. Which was probably a thrilling, onece-in-a-lifetime experience for them.
I was glad because the blades were high enough that they didn’t cut the heads off the little blue Johnny jump-ups. They did, however, do a dandy job of decapitating the thistles. I rattled on over them, forgetting that I’d only just learned yesterday that part of this particular thistle is edible. If you didn’t know, the heart of this thistle looks and tastes kind of like a less-stringy celery, which is pretty good for something so intimidating and thorny.
I realized after about the twentieth thistle, that I was blithely mowing down a potential food source while leaving ant mounds alone, for goodness’ sake. This obviously means that, if I were a young Indian woman, responsible for foraging for my tribe or family, I’d be stoned by the community. Or left out in the woods for the wolves.
I tried to tell you there wasn’t any point to this story–although I’m sitting here trying to think of some lesson to tack onto the end so I don’t feel I’ve completely wasted your time. hmm what’s an easy, wise-sounding insight I can draw from mowing thistles?
If you can think of some moral that can come from this story, I’d be interested (and entertained) in knowing it. I feel silly for some stuff I write, til I remember that I’m just writing. And then I usually do some soul-searching about how valuable “just writing” really is, if I’m not trying to do it well or draw some insight from it. And then I think maybe I ought to go do something useful, like, I dunno, mow down some thistles.
And then I question what in the heck I think I mean by “useful,” and I descend into a kind of madness.
Thanks for reading:)