If you're a gardener, and you've had this very invasive plant spring up, you'll know just how difficult it is to get rid of it, and even to keep it under control. Before laying the granite chipped paths, I put down breathable membrane rather than black plastic which tends to sour the soil. That was a mistake because weeds like horsetail take no heed of the barrier and break through with alacrity!
For years I've tried lots of different weedkillers. I've tried the 'burn off' technique with a butane weed wand. I've tried vinegar. I've tried salt. And it still returns.
A weed is of course just a plant that isn't wanted in a particular place. Actually, I'd prefer that horsetail never returned to my garden paths and though I try to let most of my garden plants grow naturally I really don't want to plod my way along a pathway of deep horsetail.
It's a powerful plant indeed...and that brings me to a powerful book that I read last weekend.
There’s an intriguing beginning to the story where the reader is introduced to Luke, who is not a particularly likeable teenager- he’s selfish, self-absorbed, mean to people and creatures and has little strength of character. However, the author weaves a skilful tale and by the end of the book Luke is a changed lad. It takes a lot of effort and patience, though, on the part of the enigmatic Guy to introduce Luke to a whole different way of looking at the world around him. Yet that in itself is also intriguing because at first Guy seems a very wishy-washy character, although it quickly becomes clear that he has such hidden depths he doesn’t seem to be of this world… Being part of a narrow-minded, bullying, peer group palls for Luke but only after Guy offers him a much better code of conduct to follow.
There are a number of different themes explored in Pica, all well handled by the author. The nastiness of uncaring, bullying youth is contrasted with Guy’s totally empathy, and more, with the nature around him. Ostracising someone for their beliefs, or sexual orientation, is dealt with sensitively by the author in Pica, though not all readers might agree with the effect of steps taken by Luke's school. Not taking things, and people, at face value is also well developed throughout the novel. Teenagers can be unbelievably hurtful, and there are plenty of examples in Pica, but again that’s balanced by the development of Luke to becoming a much altered person.
Nature is a 'motivating' theme. Guy shows Luke that nature is all powerful though most humans have lost the harnessing of it. As I read Pica, images of Australian and North and South American indigenous peoples flashed up, some of them still very in tune with the earth and its secrets. But it takes a painful nudge in the right direction before Luke is forced to learn how to change his…character. There were parts of the book that I didn’t actually like to read, yet I appreciated they were all part of the issues of the whole tale.
The ‘numen’ aspect reminds me of Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’ - though the use is different.
I'm definitely keen to read the next in the Gaia Trilogy series and don't hesitate to recommend Pica to you.