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Mother cleaned rugs; I pull weeds

I simply cannot handle another crisis. Between the Middle East crisis, the budget crisis, global warming, the war against drugs and the crisis in education, I've reached my saturation point. I need a vacation from newscasts, and the nearest hideaway is the back yard. I'm running to Mother Earth for comfort. I don't want to hear any more electioneering, mudslinging and alarming predictions for the future. I don't want to know about special interests, the savings and loan fiasco and crooks walking away scot-free. I need a rest. At this point, the only crisis I can possibly handle is the battle between the mole crickets and our lawn.

In the morning when it is cool, I get down on all fours and start pulling weeds. I feel as though I'm yanking out problems as I go along. I have a marvelous feeling of control that's enhanced when I swat some unfortunate bug who gets in my way. My anger subsides as my back begins to ache, and I realize there's healing in simple things.

I find myself smiling as I remember how my mother used to handle anger. She would grab the carpet sweeper and start cleaning the rugs with a vengeance. Every scrap of dirt went flying, and we often had the cleanest rugs in New York before Mom's Irish temper cooled.

Before I discovered weeding as a way of dealing with a world that refuses to do things my way, I used to bang pots and pans. It was very unsatisfactory. I ended up with dented pot lids that wouldn't fit and pans that rocked back and forth on the stove. I had to find another way.

One day, when I was more than a little annoyed over something, I wandered into the yard. Without knowing I was about to discover my own carpet sweeper, I yanked at a huge weed that had raised its ugly head between the azaleas. Then I yanked another, and then another. Pretty soon, I was imagining that the weeds were frustrations, and I was getting rid of them right and left.

Of course, I also discovered that we have an unlimited supply of weeds, eager to grow in every corner of every back yard in Florida, so I have plenty of material at hand to work with whenever I'm angry.

One morning last week, I looked back on my weed-pulling handiwork, and there were a few feet of my garden that looked downright spiffy. My spirits lifted, and I decided to plant a few mums in honor of the fall. I felt a certain peacefulness as I watched the big turtle who lives in the empty lot next door amble by, and admired his monumental unconcern as he munched his breakfast and went about his business.

The birds keep coming to our feeder, and now we have a mockingbird who discovered himself in the mirrors on the door of our car. He's enamored of his image and thrilled with his new-found entertainment. Unfortunately, his personal habits leave something to be desired, and he's making a mess of our car doors. My husband has started putting old socks on the mirrors. Still, Bill didn't want to deprive our little Narcissus of his image, so he nailed an old mirror to the tree beside the driveway.

I'm enjoying all this backyard drama myself, and realize my idea to take a newscast vacation is working. Heaven only knows what will happen in the Middle East, and in Congress, before the week is out. I'm sure there will be enough crises to go around when I start watching the nightly news again. In the meantime, I'll plant a tree. They say it does wonders for the ecology. Pulling weeds and planting mums is more constructive than anything I've heard coming out of Washington these days.