The Talking Root

I could not let it go. That medieval looking thorn with its tall spires of spikes and turrets of purple sharp bloom overwhelmed the native rose my team and I were hired to save. We were on a thirty acre restoration job and we had to save every native rose and grape, berry and oak from the clutches of “invasive, non native species” which threatened to choke and kill the tender natives recently planted by the Army Corps of Engineers in what was once an area used by mills and train yards.  I don’t consider myself violent but I felled that non native thorn like a lumberjack. I hacked it with my industrial trail clearing hoe until it was piled in helpless pieces. The enemy was utterly vanquished. Then I cleared its lifeless body from the soft dirt under the Wood Rose only to discover the heart of the beast was still beating. Its root remained in tact next to the rose.

I am no expert in such matters and I was instructed that it was not necessary to remove roots but only to clear space for the natives to reach light and air yet something compelled me to dig out that deeply embedded root. My thoughts ran something like this:

I want to just this one time finish something I start

I don’t want to quit because it’s too had

I want to be determined and willing no matter how long it takes me.

So with that list I dug and chopped and pulled for the better part of an hour until I plucked that huge root up from its tunnel home. I disconnected all its arteries one at a time, I wiggled it back and forth hearing it rip from the dirt and I dug a trench around it until I finally wrestled it from the dirt. When I finally got it out the root was the size of a long, fat carrot. It’s absence left a gaping wound in the dirt.  

When it was over I was sweaty and tired. I sat in the dirt thinking only that some roots run deeper than others. I did not feel accomplished but more surprised that I still held the deep roots of insecurity which started the fight in the first place between the root and me.

The facts are that I have finished many things I’ve started, stayed with plenty of things when the going got tough and have not lacked determination. The insecurity that got me digging and toiling came from a moment in a strawberry field some forty plus years ago when my mom told me I was lazy because I daydreamed and ate berries rather than picked them. She was right on that day but it was not meant to be a life sentence nor a statement of my general condition. Yet somewhere in me I stored that statement as perpetual fact and now that I was back digging in the dirt it showed itself to me quite clearly. It must have been stuck between my hands and my heart and the force of grubbing out that thorn released it. It was only when I met a determined root that I understood.

Sometimes we find ourselves being pushed in ways which make no sense until they finally do. I could not figure out why I was putting myself through this job of hoeing and sweating until that snap of clarity when the root spoke its truth.

Sweat has its timing and it is most often a week or two after we wish for it. Now I’m daydreaming in a hot bath and my mind drifts to strawberries and roots and blisters on my feet and I am so grateful.


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