When I saw the grass popping up in the strip of soil near the concrete that lines the fence and alley at the end of the driveway, I knew I’d seen her before. Up the street. From the hell strip in front of the neighbors white two story stucco home with the black iron fence. There were about four or five of them, like her, centered in the space in a straight row. I can’t tell you how long they were there I just remember that about the time I stopped noticing them they were gone.
I found myself keeping an eye on her. Her full wispiness catching sunlight and pushing herself out of the hard and soft earth. Before long she was waist height. In the heavy heat of summer her feathery yellow tips morphed into purple plumes. These plumes got me thinking and wondering. What would this color look like on cloth?
So, I took the clippers to her. Gently trimmed each stalk and carried handfuls to my work table in the garden. Taking each stalk in my fingers and gently pulling the flowers from the blades onto cheesecloth. Making sure to tie everything securely I dropped the satchel into the dye bath. Although the water was purple I wasn’t sure if the color would show up because, we never really know if it will show up. I left the cloth in the bath for an extra long time with hope. I pulled the cloth out and the softest gentlest pinkish purple showed up. And then it happened. This little moment. And that connected feeling. The one that makes my breath stop for a moment. I felt the connection to her, to the sidewalk where she sits. To the soil beneath and beyond her roots and my roots.
With all of the excitement and focus on the color I hadn’t taken the time to learn her name. So, I started researching. And there I found her. Purple Fountain Grass. I started seeing her in gardens all over Los Angeles. In the hills where we hike. And then I started to notice her on the sides of roads and in between houses all over the city, I realized she is very prolific. So prolific that she goes by another name in California. Invasive. This vague semi-definable term started to weigh heavy on me. Everyday I would see her flourishing. And then as I noticed others like her sprouting all over the driveway. I was torn. On one hand the color she produced was undeniably lovely. On the other hand she was part of an ecological problem. I realized I had a choice. It took me a year, I eventually painfully pulled her out of the ground. She made it difficult with her strength and perseverance. Every now and then she does her best to come back. I do the pulling as soon as I see her sprouting, with the hope of making it less painful for both of us.