I have an irrational fear of Giant Hogweed. I call it an irrational fear, because I have never seen a plant, and never experienced its effects.
I am afraid of it only because I know it grows in my province. See irrational.
I first heard about Giant Hogweed last summer in the news. I heard about how it is spreading and what types of environment and how it can really harm you if you touch its sap.
The problem is, I had only seen bits and pieces of pictures of the weed and it’s flowers look much like another common, but harmless plant called Queen Anne’s Lace, which there is plenty of right in my back yard.
It just so happens that last summer I had my cat out in the back yard. He’s an indoor cat and I don’t allow him to roam free, but I do let him outside if I am around to watch him. He’s a pretty cautious cat, he’ll dart a few feet in front of me and then look back and wait for me to follow before running a few more feet. But on this particular day, he decided to run out a few feet further and was headed toward the area behind the shed that leads to the bank that runs down into the Harbour.
And that’s when I saw it. There was a plant that looked to me exactly like the pictures I had seen of Giant Hogweed. I shouted and ran for the cat and managed to get him safely in the house away from the threat of the Hogweed.
Turns out it wasn’t Hogweed at all, it was just another plant that looks like it, but is much smaller. Luckily enough for me, I figured out that it wasn’t and have learned a bit more about Giant Hogweed since, because had I not learned that it wasn’t almost immediately I would have been down in that bank digging up everything that even remotely looked like Giant Hogweed, and that would have been dangerous. You can’t just dig the plant up, in fact you need protective gear and everything. It’s dangerous to just cut Hogweed down.
So if I ever really do come across Giant Hogweed, my best bet is going to be calling in the proper “authority” and letting them deal with the problem. Until then, I live in the uncomfortable knowledge, that I can’t really tell the difference between good plants and many different types of weeds that grow right together.
So as I think of Jesus parable of the wheat and the weed in Matthew 13:24-30, and 36-43, I am reminded that just as I can’t tell the difference between literal weeds and would be likely to pull up even good plants, I’m even less likely to be able to judge the proverbial plants that Jesus is talking about. I would try to pull out the weeds but wind up spoiling the whole harvest because I’d be digging up and throwing out the good stuff too, and in trying to protect myself I’d be causing more damage than good.
So for me, even though it seems unnatural to not work at getting rid of the weeds, allowing them to grow with the “good stuff” I have to admit that I don’t really know anything about it and trust the one who does.