The parable of the sower has just failed at my house. Last winter I decided it was time to start a garden—not only because I thought it would give me pleasure but also because I hoped it might help me read the Bible. Since I moved to the country, I am more aware than ever what a rural preacher Jesus was. So many of his teachings rely on his listeners' firsthand knowledge of how fish, flocks and seeds behave. As the wife of a fly-fisherman and the caretaker of a dozen cats, dogs, horses and llamas, I have fish and flocks pretty well handled. But I remained innocent of seeds until last winter.
That was when I began clearing the mint from a sunny patch of earth outside my kitchen window. For those who may not know, mint is charming at first. It is pretty to look at, wonderful to smell and useful for Greek cooking, but once it gets going it is no respecter of boundaries. Its lateral roots prefer breadth to depth. They can take over a flowerbed in no time flat.