Michael KreponHope and Stiltgrass

Quote of the Week

“As a special field of horticulture, a garden exclusively of ferns presents a powerful challenge to skill in soil culture and landscape design.” — “Ferns in the Flower Garden” by H. Lincoln Foster in Ferns, The Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide, 1963 edition.

Note to readers: Veteran followers of these posts are accustomed to the occasional visit of Chauncey Gardner.

MK: Chauncey, thanks for answering my distress call.

CG: Let me guess…

MK: Yes, I need to vent about the Japanese stiltgrass.

CG: You do look a bit haggard.

MK: I’ve only got a week or so before the seed pods burst.

CG: Remind me: How many acres are you tending?

MK: And your point is…

CG: I’m tired of this conversation. A single plant can produce between 100 and 1,000 seeds. The seeds remain viable in the soil for three years or more.

MK: Thanks for the numbers. Just the encouragement I need.

GG: You’re not going to win this battle. So why fight it?

MK: Now that I’m retired, I can put more time into this. I remain hopeful.

CG: You also remain hopeful that the Red Sox can go the distance. You’re weeding multiple fields of dreams.

MK: One of my favorite movies. The ‘have a catch’ scene brings me to tears every time.

CG: I spoke to your long-forbearing wife the other day. She says you’re spending quite a bit of time following the Red Sox.

MK: An essential diversion. She always asks me ‘Who’s winning?’

CG: And what do you say?

MK: That their pitching is bad. They also have sloppy fielding.

CG: So what does she say?

MK: She says I’ve been repeating myself for forty-five years. The Sox can hit, though.

CG: My turn to repeat myself: Why do you keep betting against the odds?

MK: Because the odds get worse if I stop weeding and hoping. And occasionally, everything comes up roses.

CG: How many rose bushes do you have?

MK: One. The other one died of old age.

CG: I rest my case.

MK: OK, my wise, worldly friend, here’s a number for you: Over 125,000 nuclear weapons have been produced by human hands since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And not one has been used in warfare. Who, pray tell, has kept these noxious weeds at bay? Defeatists, fatalists, and armchair cynics don’t prevent mushroom clouds. Persistent, pragmatic optimists do.

CG: I get your point.

MK: Thank you. And besides, who are you kidding, my faux sceptic? You’re a weed puller, just like me.

CG: I pick my battles. Weeding is good for the soul as well as the garden.

MK: Every day that I pull stiltgrass and give the ferns breathing room is a good day. The ferns have never looked better.


  1. Elizabeth Talerman (History)

    My soul needed this Michael! Thank you!

    • Michael Krepon (History)

      Weed on, my friend!