When I first moved into my newly constructed home in Santa Fe, there was nothing growing from the soil around the house. As was the custom with new developments, all the topsoil had been stripped from the land before the building began. If you tried to dig a hole, the shovel went down about three inches before it hit rock hard caliche. There were no plants, no rabbits, no lizards or snakes, no birds, not even any insects. There was no visible life.
In order to remedy this, I began hauling loads of horse manure from horse barns south of Santa Fe and spreading it in my yard. This was going to be a long haul.The very first sign of life came during a heavy rainstorm about a month after I moved in. I opened the front door and there on the porch sat a tiny little toad. This was a joyous moment! It gave me hope that life would truly reassert itself on this piece of land.
Throughout the first few years, I painstakingly dug in the dirt and created a garden of trees, bushes, flowers and herbs. I planted a small tree in the southwest corner which was eventually dwarfed by an apricot tree that emerged out of a compost pile and became the tallest tree in my yard. At a later date I constructed a small cold frame using the glass from a storm door I found at a thrift shop. It served me well during the colder months with a crop of flowers and greens, including some sweet and delicate miner’s lettuce.
I had heard about the ravages of bindweed and how it took over in people’s gardens, but up until now I hadn’t seen any growing in my yard. But then I found out that horses’ digestive systems did not destroy the seeds and I began to see the tendrils of vines emerging where the soil had been improved and lots of things – planned and unplanned – were growing.
The bindweed started on the east side of the house and eventually made its way around the corner to the cold frame. As hard as I tried to keep it under control, it grew so rapidly that it finally took over and I had to surrender. I removed the cold frame and covered the area with weed barrier, then started all over again.
I pondered the power and resilience of this amazing plant…wondered what healing gifts it had to offer. I told my bindweed that I would allow it to grow and flower so I could make an essence with it. That night I had a dream about it.
I am in a land forested by giant plants of Bindweed. The stems are as thick as my arm. There is a sinister feeling about the place because no one knows how to control the growth of its vines. The more you try to eradicate them, the more they grow. Within this forest is a big old house. It has the typical look of a haunted house with a second floor and an attic, many shuttered windows…the interior walls very dark with thick solid wood doors. Some of the vines are growing into the house. The place is absolutely quiet and I am shushed by my friends as if the sound of my voice will make the vines grow faster.
I am here to do some research. I leave the house and walk along a trail of vines. I slice the vines at intervals and place white pieces of paper over the cross sections to make imprints and study them later. I’m trying to understand what prompts its growth.
Next morning, I made up a tale about the trail of vines. I proposed that they are seeded by dreams that are not carried through, unfinished plans, emotions that get stuck, squelched, or denied. The energy keeps going in another form – the form of the bindweed vines. The only cure is to examine the leaves which tell the story, acknowledge our motivations, feel the emotions, and recognize the hidden agenda. We can take the energy back and re-direct it. We begin to grow and the bindweed shrivels up and returns to the earth as compost.
There are many ways to look at this plant. Bindweed is a teacher and a healer. What first struck me about it was how it served as a metaphor of unchecked growth in an age of corporate greed and consumerism. Secondly, it is an agent of change, disallowing the progress of old ways that don’t work for us anymore. It can transmute the energy of our dreams and intentions into a form that reflects who we are in this new reality.