"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

04 September 2012


When I was but a wee lad, barely able to walk, my mother was not very good at yard work. The flowerbeds would become overgrown with weeds. My father, muttering curses and thoughts of murder would take care of them. Of course, the gardening guru at our community garden once said a weed is merely a plant you do not want.

Because of legalities, my mother never did anything like smoke a joint. This is almost queer, given my father has danced with Mary Jane since he was sixteen. When my mother was sick, sick, my father suggested she just sit in the room with him whilst he had a toke or two as to help lessen the pain not even morphine could completely erase. She refused under the auspice of marijuana's status within the eyes of the law.

"Then just suffer!" My father snapped at her once toward the end. It was a stressful time.

By virtue of my mother's side of the family, we have been in this state for over a century and a half. Some of the first ones, when it comes to the paler-skinned settlers. Invasive weeds, encased in the animal flesh. This makes my family a little more ancient in this part of the world, I suppose. It also makes it nearly comical how my mother could not readily identify plants she grew up around.

Back when I was but a wee lad, barely able to walk, a particular plant appeared in the flowerbeds my mother would never weed. It was tall and thorny with a brush-like purple flower. She did not readily recognize this plant and asked my father if he knew.

"My, god!" He exclaimed in his rich and thick North Carolina accent. "That's a hash plant! Woman, we're gonna be rich!"

My mother ran outside to weed the flowerbeds. Quiet throughly, it should be added. My father stayed inside to watch a baseball game. It was only much later he would tell my mother that particular plant was not a hash plant, but a Russian thistle.

As one can imagine, the language was colorful. I'm certain my mother's response was sponsored by the letter fuck. But, as my father would put it, it broke her of sucking eggs, and she became much more helpful with yard work. It was also the beginning of a family joke still told to this day.

Over the years and lifetimes, my father, my siblings, and I have mentioned seeing the purported hash plant, and spoken of making our fortunes with it. In recent years, my daughter has gotten in on the joke, saying this was her meal ticket to university. Back when my mother was still alive, with an ancient sidelong glare toward my father, she would groan out a good-natured hey! at the circumstance.

Despite the already changing leaves in our Sahel, there has been a reappearance of some flowering plants; columbines, clovers, and dandelions. Messianic second comings of flora. In the last couple of weeks, I've seen another plant come back; the Russian thistle.   

I see it and chuckle. I smile bittersweetly. I reach down and give this weed just the slightest touch. After all, its existence gets me to think of my mother, and, in that way, simpy as it sounds, it almost makes it that she's not so far away.


  1. I loved the humour and account of a slice of family history that leads you to remember you mum.

  2. You heart-tugger, you. I almost cried.

    1. Thank you, though I'd have loathed to make you cry.

  3. The thistles in Scotland are as big as artichokes. Imagine the possibilities if they actually were hash. You could send a whole village to college, no problem.

    Good post...and memories...

    1. And to grad school, for that matter.

      Thank you.