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June 21, 2020

Henry was over six feet tall when I attacked him. My husband John snapped pictures of the whole thing. I felt bad about it, but my patience had worn thin. Henry had outstayed his welcome, and he had to go.

I found Henry when he was about knee high. He was peculiar, kind of cute and unlike any I’d ever seen. I decided he must be a stray looking for a home. I had no idea what sort of mongrel he was, so I accepted him as he was and named him Henry.

Henry had leaves the size of tennis rackets, a thick, hollow-sounding stem (yes, I did knock on it, don’t ask me why), and tiny yellow flowers arranged like a miniature crown on top of all his greenery. When he grew waist-high, I wondered about his possible alien origins. None of the other garden weeds looked like Henry. He seemed lonely, so I began to talk to him whenever I passed by. “Hello, Henry. How’s tricks?” He seemed to like the attention.

When Henry reached shoulder height, I questioned my hospitality. I dreamed of the man-eater in Little Shop of Horrors, and I imagined him singing into my ear, “feed me.” I refused, figuring that Henry had plenty of energy without my involvement.

After Henry topped six feet, John suggested that maybe it was time for Henry to go. Jack’s beanstalk was mentioned. And, with a weak pang of remorse, I planned my attack.

I tried to coax Henry out of the ground, giving him a gentle tug. No deal. I strained until I rocked back on my heels, and pulled at roots that were deeper than I’d thought possible. No matter how I wrestled that weed, I failed. The photos John took of me during the battle show a crazed looking woman with dirt-smudged face, dressed in baggy jeans, socks up over the cuffs, a long sleeve canvas shirt, and a sunhat. I am holding loppers, ready to snip Henry down to size. No deal. The loppers weren’t strong enough to cut through the stalk. Henry’s ancestors must have been redwoods. I stomped off to the garage and came back with a saw. If Henry wanted to behave like a tree, I’d treat him like a tree. The saw may have been a little puny, but I made it work. I ripped him into logs, and stuffed him in bags for the waste hauler. My summer idyll with Henry was over.

This spring, I noticed a cluster of little weeds that look alarmingly like Henry. Perhaps I’d misnamed him. He was a she, and her name was Henrietta.





One Comment leave one →
  1. June 21, 2020 8:21 pm

    Love this, Kathi!

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