Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Seduction of Beauty

Driving on the interstate, i see a stretch of brilliantly colored leaves--a rarity in our late fall of tan beech and russet oak leaves. The quarter-mile edging turns out to be burning bush (Euonymous alata), which has become an invasive in the woods. Oh, my. It certainly is beautiful, but i'm sure no one planted it there at the verge of the woods and the mowed edge of the highway.

Then i pass a cliff face made festive by bittersweet scrambling around on it. A friend recently offered me some bittersweet from her yard. "Yes," she said, "I know it's invasive, but it's so pretty."

"And it's illegal to transport it," i said. Because what are you going to do with it next spring? Throw it away. Where? In your compost pile so it can sprout somewhere in your garden a year or two later?

Beauty is the seduction of invasive plants. Perhaps we have some friends who are beautiful people. "Are they honorable?" is the key question. Beauty comes and goes. Beauty, in particular a beautiful woman draped over or around an item of merchandise, will get us to buy any number of products--cars, alcoholic beverages, even those mud flaps behind the back tires of semi-trailer trucks. We read in the news about men who smash their promising careers (usually political) by chasing after a young beauty.

And we, do we smash our honorable intentions of harmlessness and kindness by rationalizing, "Oh, it's so pretty. Just this little bit won't hurt."

Photo courtesy of Blue Heron Landscape Design.

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