A black-and-white portrait of KenKen ZinserMake sense and make better

Weeds accumulate cruft

Weeds and invasive grasses are shallow and opportunistic. They don’t usually have deep, complex root systems, which makes it easy for them to sprout up wherever. But when they do take root they also accumulate cruft. Dust, dirt, bits of dead leaves — anything that gets caught up under its fragile, sprawling growth.

This accumulation creates a habitat for insects and pests and other opportunistic creatures to slink and slither about. It also obscures the roots of the weed, a kind of protection, and makes it more difficult to eradicate.

Unless you pull that weed and sweep away the debris, they will continue to create space and accumulate cruft and create this wasteland that, ultimately, prevents others from growing.

When you do pull that weed — the one that has been growing for months in the cracks between your sidewalk and retaining wall — all those worms and spiders and earwigs are roused into a fit of activity, writhing and wiggling about trying to find new shade.

It makes me think about people and certain situations in society and politics. It seems like anybody today can espouse ideas and gain followers. Demagogues and populist mobs, technocratic disruptors and cults of personality.

Those people and their ideas can be as weak as the roots of a weed, but they create space nonetheless, and that space is inevitably filled with protective cruft.