From paradise to parking lot


You know I have a great affection for weeds. I grew up on the edge of a National Forest, and we had more land than we could use (my parents started with twenty acres of woods and pasture, sold half, and still couldn’t figure out what to do with the remaining ten acres). There was one small patch of weeds, probably twenty feet square, just off to one side of our house, on a little hill. My mother insisted that it be mowed from time to time, but I resisted. I rejoiced in it. It had everything: dandelion, chess, quack, vetch, three kinds of clover, plaintain. I literally used to roll in that weed patch on sunny days. It was a miniature jungle, just right for a little boy.

I visit my old home on Google Earth from time to time. The house is still there (though greatly changed). But I see that my old patch of weeds is all plowed up now, made into useful ground.

What a pity.

Even here in Providence, where people have been building and ripping up and building again for over three hundred years, there are still little patches of chaos. One of my favorites was on Angell Street, a few blocks from where I’m writing this. In summer it was practically tropical; it featured a couple of gigantic trees-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), that fabulous fast-growing weed tree, bigger than any I’d ever seen in southern New England, and at least two dozen smaller species.

Then, about ten years ago, the bulldozers moved in, and they plowed it under, and they built a Starbucks.

Another piece of paradise gone.

There’s another little patch close to our apartment, a hill with trees and flowers. Huge mullein thrive there, and weedy maples, and Queen Anne’s lace in summertime.

The backhoe was there this morning, ripping it all up.

Sing it, Joni Mitchell!

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to From paradise to parking lot

  1. starproms says:

    There is nothing prettier than a field full of natural flowers, is there Loren. I agree. Love your choice of song too.

    • I love both kinds of garden – the natural and the planned. A friend of mine at work just told me a story about how he destroyed a forty-year-old flowering quince, because it wasn’t in quite the right place in his garden. I wanted to slap him.

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