I just spent an hour and a half in the prairie, pulling seed heads off the crabgrass. I’ve been doing this for a couple of hours every day. It is a futile, exercise, I know. The prairie has turned a hazy brown – the color of crabgrass going to seed. My efforts have created little islands of green, but there is no way I can remove all the stems before they burst open to spread a new crop of seeds. Even so, I do not consider my efforts a waste.
My time in the prairie has given me new appreciation for the persistence of these native plants. Even though the crabgrass appears to have the upper hand, spreading like a thick carpet across the ground, hogging all the sunlight, coneflowers, Partridge Peas, Big Bluestem push their way through. Were I only to pass the prairie at a clip on my morning walk, I would not see these tiny plants.
When I spot a seedling, I clear away as much of the crabgrass as I can, hoping to encourage the newest plant by allowing it a full day of sun. I was rewarded this week when the Partridge Peas began to bloom. Hurrah! My first native flower blossoms.
Today, I also began to appreciate the persistence of the crabgrass. Did you know that every single crabgrass leaf produces a seed head? It does. I observed this as I pull off one after another until every leaf is stripped. And each seed head has a million seeds. Okay, I haven’t become so obsessed that I actually counted, but it sure looks like it. Crabgrass would only go to this length if many of those seeds were destined never to germinate. All those seeds by one plant just to ensure survival of one.
Leaving the prairie today, I took a look back at the tiny green area resulting from my hour and a half of labor. I chuckled as I thought, ‘I am NOT in control here.’ I am doing what I can. Enjoying the effort. Hoping to make a tiny difference. But, I am not in control. And remarkably, that feels okay.