Cut It Out

For several months I have been staring at the rosemary bush in our backyard. It has perplexed and irked me despite my love for its aromatic and flavorful offerings.

Said bush has had a huge brown, dead spot that has bothered me from day one. It is not just on an edge, sort of out of sight.  No, this spot  is smack dab in the middle of the plant and impossible to ignore.

We live in the midst of a state facing a severe drought so it seems unlikely the bush is facing root rot. Regardless, root rot or infection, the only advice I’ve been able to find online is to prune it and get rid of the dead branches.

So this morning, with cooler temperatures hinting at autumn, I set out to remove the eye sore.

Finally, I simply had to walk away. The job half-finished. My hands cramped and blistered. While the rosemary bush, significantly less brown, now stands with a gaping hole, evidence that something was once there and has been forcefully removed.

Pruning isn’t fun, but it is necessary for the life of the plant. 

Sometimes branches have to be cut out of our lives because they are dead or diseased. It hurts. I mean, it never feels good to have some part cut away. Even when it isn’t doing us any good, we get attached to those branches.

But, I also realized that sometimes pruning hurts the gardener too. I walked away with blisters from the tools and sore muscles from the work. I am not upset about the work or the price I physically paid, but it is just a seeing and knowing that it cost me something too in this process.

And then, there’s the gaping hole.

Part of pruning’s purpose is to make way for new life and the ability to be more fruitful, but looking at so many dead branches and what seems like such a large hole makes it seem a lot less convincing.

Or maybe it’s just the realization that then, after the pruning, comes the waiting.

Waiting for the growth to happen. Waiting for the new life to appear from what now seems dead.


It isn’t my favorite task.

While waiting, there’s just this empty space that’s clearly visible. A place where you know life once was, but now it is just empty.

It cannot easily be hidden, and at this moment, today, there is no making it nice and neat and beautiful.

That feels an awful lot like life right now, and I’m trying to be okay with that.


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