The deer have pruned the Japanese maple, the blueberry, the gaillardia, and they browsed my black-eyed susans down to pitiful nubs.

“Eat meat for lunch,” I told James. He sighed the sigh of a man who will be peeing into a bottle by nightfall.

It is probably entirely my enthusiasm for gardening that leads me to believe that a comic about a druid gardener would be awesome. It’d have to be fairly short–you can only battle the forces of kudzu so long before it gets old–but it’d be cool.

Many people have a very skewed vision of what druids do. They think we’re all little old men wearing white robes and oak leaves, carrying silver sickles to cut mistletoe on the longest day of the year, speaking the language of the animals, dispensing ancient wisdom ‘mongst the standing stones, and occasionally cutting loose and cramming people into a giant flammable wicker man.

This is true, so far as it goes. I do have a set of white robes for the longest day of the year. The other 364 days—well, when you’re spending eight hours on your knees ripping out bindweed, white robes are not the garment of choice, and while silver sickles are fine and good, most of the time what you need are pruning shears, or a machete.

I do not wear oak leaves. I have yanked up so many goddamn oak seedlings—pin oak, black oak, water oak, thrush oak, the squirrels bury the acorns, the acorns sprout, and suddenly there’s hungry roots everywhere and perfectly decent plants who never had an unkind word for anybody are getting smothered under an ocean of ravenous oak—I cannot abide oak.

And the language of animals is not as interesting as you might think. Sure, the young druid is ecstatic when they finally master the delicate, fluttering language of the butterflies, right up until they learn that there is only one word in butterfly, which is “Pretty!”

“Pretty! Pretty! Pretty!”

This is their word for everything. Flowers, potential mates, themselves (especially themselves.) The trick is determining which one they’re talking about at any given time. Even then, they’re not great conversationalists.

Bees are exactly the opposite. Bees are caste-riddled and caste-conscious, and have more levels of respectful titles in one burrow than an entire Imperial shogunate. Ancestors help you if you address a third level supervisory administrative assistant in the mode suited to administrative third level assistant supervisors. Don’t run for the water. They’ll wait. Tall grass is a better bet.

Birds, on the other hand, don’t care how you address them. They’re delighted to talk to you, no matter what. All day. Every day.

Every twig that gets added to a nest or rejected is narrated. Every insect that passes their beak is recounted, in exhaustive detail. Every pulled worm will be discussed at great length and compared to every other worm the bird has ever encountered, as well as The Worm That Got Away.

You spend the first twenty years of your life learning to hear the language of the animals, and then you spend the next twenty trying to learn how to tune it out.

There is a standing stone somewhere in my forest. Eventually, I hope to cut back the kudzu enough to locate it.

That’s what I do most days. Forget dispensing ancient wisdom and listening to the music of the spheres and all that crap. Mostly, I weed.

Although if I ever find the guy who thought introducing kudzu was a good idea, I wouldn’t mind showing HIM the inside of a wicker man…

Leave a Reply