An acquaintance with Joe

It was hate at first sight.

Yes, yes. I hear my mother’s voice before that first sentence is even complete. “There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that little behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us.”

No reason that can’t as well apply to things. (Mother abhorred the word “hate.”) Well, even Gloria has her good points. But I’d have a really, really hard time feeling anything good about THIS.

I was weeding around the forget-me-nots, an area untouched till now so I guess if you want to be fair, that plant was here before I. (But not before the house was built. And all the other weeds in there gave up easily (as good weeds should).

Not this . . . this monster. I wouldn’t be surprised if its roots crept even under the foundation. There seemed to be no end to its tentacles. Now I’m a pretty good – and determined – weeder. I don’t give up easily – on anything.

“Stubborn”? Make that “tenacious” (as in tentacles).

Fortunately (as in God knows when to send help), two agile young men appeared with tools bigger than I could handle. It still required effort but out came the root mass I’d been trying to clear. Impressive pictures though I’m certain that’s not the beginning – or end – of this.

It was with great delight that I could toss it into an area (“over the hill”) where it can’t annoy me anymore. Relatives? Oh, yes, I was wrong for three new plants have already sprung up in the same site.

Even right after this episode, I can’t remember how or why I wanted to keep a sprout. Guess I’m invariably curious so, if I could identify it, so much the better.

It’s happy here! How can one not find something to love about any living thing so easily assimilated? I have it living in the bottom of a plastic take-out container, sitting outside and surviving on nothing more than daily fillings of water.

Not only is it growing but it has become quite a handsome plant. I see no promise yet of flowers that might have helped but the leaves alone were enough to give it away:

“Parts Indistinguishable” says Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, obviously referring to the someday flowers. No flower (yet) but four leaves [can be whorls of 3-7] with a deep-purple or purple-spotted stem and a single main vein tapering gradually to the base. It’s a tall robust plant with purple or pink flowers in a large branching cluster of small cylindrical heads. Expect it to grow to 3-20 feet high (but probably not in my little pot).

It isn’t a new wildflower for my album (I tend to forget), while Newcomb says it’s commonly found inland in damp meadows and thickets. And I continue to complain about how dry it’s been this year!

I have “Spotted Joe-Pye Weed” which is a relative of boneset, mistflower and trumpetweed.

Folklore has it that an Indian, “Joe Pye,” used this plant to cure fevers and that the early American colonists used it to treat an outbreak of typhus.

My Joe won’t be called upon to do anything like that. For now Joe’s happy in his Jo-Jo’s bowl. I water him regularly and talk to him every time I pass by. I know with time (like a kitten or puppy) he’ll need to find more suitable lodging.

But for now a new challenge!

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. “Her Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.


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