It’s that time of year, and I’ve decided to become a gardener. This is a life-changing decision for me, because despite my last name, and despite the fact that my husband is a landscaper, I am a card-carrying member of Plantkillers Anonymous. But from this day forward, I plan to actually water my plants. Or, I plan to try to remember to water them.

            I’ve named my new utopia “The Prayer Garden.” Not because I go there to pray, but because those plants can use all the prayer they can get.

            When I made the decision to grow a green thumb, I had happy, peaceful visions of myself, working in the soil, surrounded by voluptuous blooms of every size, shape and color. Butterflies fluttered to and fro, children chased the butterflies, dogs chased the children. Norman Rockwell, move aside.

            But then reality showed up, in the form of pesky weeds that crash my flower party. Every day, I pull the stubborn little guys from the ground. Every day, more come.

            I’ve sprayed them with weed killer. Still they come.

            I’ve replaced the soil with clean dirt. Still they come.

            I’ve fed them salt, vinegar, even boiling water. But still. They come.


            So every day, day after day, I walk up and down my flowerbeds. I bend over, pinch the weed, stand up. Bend, pinch, stand. Who needs an expensive gym membership, when you’ve got weeds?

            But honestly, why do I bother? They’ll just come back. There’s nothing I can do. I guess I could cement the entire bed and stick some silk flowers there. But I’m not even sure cement could stop some of these weeds.

            So I can keep pulling the dandelions and thistles, or I can surrender and let them take over my flowerbed. Neither option is pleasant, but I refuse to give in. So I keep pulling the weeds.

            It’s like washing dishes, and doing laundry, and paying taxes and stopping to pick up the trash others have left behind at the city park . . . all those little things we do to make a difference, when we know that before long, we’ll just have to do it again. And again and again.

Sometimes, it feels like our efforts don’t make a difference. We labor and toil, only to see our work undone. Still, we keep washing the dishes. We keep throwing away the soda bottles and candy wrappers that others leave behind. We refuse to give in, because to do so would just mean chaos. We don’t want to be flooded by bad things, so we keep doing our little good deeds, day after day, hoping we can somehow make a difference.

This morning, I stood at the street and looked at my flowerbeds. The shrubs are green, the flowers are red and pink and yellow and purple. The mulch gives it a nice, finished touch. It’s not a candidate for Better Homes and Gardens, but it won’t be entered into the Gardening Hall of Shame, either.

It looks downright (Bending, pinching . . .) pretty.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at