The Lesson of the Privet

One mid afternoon I was resting at the edge, where the forest met the field. As I knelt on the ground beneath the forest canopy's shade I found myself in the company of a privet bush. I had long battled the pestilent woody plants that were crowded at the edge of every clearing on our 16-acre farm.

We were not alone. I have been included in more conversations on how troublesome privet is that I can recall. Every farmer I know has complained at some point about privet and most have sought to annihilate the "invasive" species, including me. I have spent days pulling and cutting only to have more grow back to replace it's fallen kin.

 Leaning forward to access my knife to cut down the shrubby creature I was startled by a voice that emanated from the plant. I looked curiously through the team of green leaves and berries that moved gently on the branches.

I could not see anything that might indicate the source of the sound so I carried on. Quickly I grasped the base of the privet and prepared to pull it from the earth when again I heard the voice. Assuredly I had lost my mind for the privet was telling me a story. I closed my eyes and listened to faint whisper of the plant.

  "You will destroy me, and for what reason. Your people call me invasive, yet I never sought to be here. Your forefathers brought my forefathers to this land and now all have passed on. You will take me from this place yet I have succeeded where others have failed. I have held the dirt that would wash to the sea If I had not. What your kind has destroyed I have worked to save. If nature has allowed me to thrive why will you wage such efforts to see my end."

 I was humbled by the privet's plea and released my grip around its trunk. I thought of the kudzu and English Ivy. I thought of the people that were plucked from ancestral lands and brought to work as slaves. I thought of the kudzu beetle on the sunflowers. I thought of all of the things that our kind has done and cannot undo and the desperate actions of men when they face the consequences of a motion that cannot be halted.

The privet still thrives at the edge of our field, only now I admire it's tenacity and work ethics in place of my former resentment. It has not spoken with me since.

-Chuck