The economy of weeds

The weeds have returned. Kiddo#3 informed me, “It will take a decade to pull them all out!”

I said, “That sounds like a long time. How long is a decade?”

He thought, then said, “I think it’s a hundred years.”

I love that phase where they know kind-of what a word means, but not exactly. It results in all sorts of hilarity (like the time someone speculated that our neighbor was still asleep at noon, and then-aged-three Kiddo#1 sighed impatiently, then said, “If she did that, she would be nocturnal!”)

I continued pulling weeds and came up with one that had a seed still attached to the bottom. I showed Kiddo#3, pointing out that this plant had grown from an acorn. He said, “How did an acorn get here?”

I said, “Who usually carries around acorns?”

He thought about it for a while and then decided maybe the tree had put it there. I asked a few more questions and finally we decided a squirrel might have buried it there, thinking to come back for it later. But because squirrels have an even shorter attention span than Kiddo#3, the squirrel forgot and the tree started to grow.

I said, “So all those oak trees may have been planted by squirrels.” He liked that idea. I said, “And then the trees grow up, and they make acorns to feed the squirrels, so it’s kind of like they’re saying thank-you to the squirrel who planted them by feeding that squirrel’s children and grandchildren.”

The school bus arrived then, so I’m not sure he got it. But for a moment there, his eyes brightened and I could see he liked the idea of these trees, towering over the landscape for hundreds of years, watching over hundreds of squirrels and feeding them from gratitude that these silly animals had given them life.


  1. cricketB

    The best time to plant an apple tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
    — Chinese proverb

  2. Scott

    What a great Earth day commercial that would be with Elton John singing “the Circle of Life” in the background. 🙂