Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a nice wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One day Benson was annoying some ants with a leaf. His mother said, “Benson, stop poking the ants with that leaf. You can see it upsets them.”
Benson didn’t want to leave the ants alone. He got a stick and teased them with it instead.
“Benson,” his mother said, “I think it would a good idea if you went and helped Aunt Lillibet weed her turnip patch.”
Benson went off to the turnip patch, grumbling to himself. “I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was just playing with them.”
The turnip patch was full of weeds. Aunt Lillibet had been weeding all morning and her back was hurting her. She was very glad to see Benson. “You can start over in that corner,” she said.
Benson started to pull up some leafy green weeds.
“No, that’s not a weed, it’s parsley, you ninny!” Aunt Lillibet shouted.
Benson put the leafy green parsley back and pulled up some hairy green stalks instead.
“Not that, those are my baby carrots, you nincompoop!” Lillibet shouted.
Benson started to get mad. Everyone was annoying him today. “Well, which ones should I pull out?” he said.
“The weeds! The weeds!” Lillibet said. “I’m too tired to argue with you. I’m going in to lie down.”
Benson looked at the garden. He thought about weeds. If I were a nettle, he said to himself, those turnip plants would be weeds in my garden. If I were a fern in a fern garden, then carrots would be weeds, and apples, and everything that wasn’t ferns. I think weeds depends on your point of view.
He sat down and leaned back against a tree and thought about weeds. When his mother came out later, he was still sitting there. The turnip garden was still full of weeds.
“Benson, why haven’t you done any weeding?” his mother asked.
“I didn’t know which ones were weeds,” Benson said. “You might think something is a weed, but it’s just a plant that someone doesn’t want in that particular place. Weeds are plants too, you know.”
Benson’s mother looked at him very quietly, so quietly that Benson started to get worried.
“Go inside, Benson,” she said, “and tidy up your room. I’ll call you as soon as dinner is ready.”
Benson went inside. He didn’t like the sound of his mother’s voice. He tidied up his room, and came out for dinner.
On the table was a bowl of something greeny-brown with spiky things sticking out of it. “What’s that?” Benson said.
“It’s thistle salad, with dandelions and bracken. And I’ve made some nettle soup, and some clover sandwiches. Eat up.”
“You made weeds for dinner? But I’m hungry!” Benson said.
“What do you mean, weeds? These were some plants I found growing in Aunt Lillibet’s garden.”
Benson didn’t know what to say.
His mother said, “Benson, where do you think all those carrots and turnips and parsnips and beans and tomatoes that you love come from? Aunt Lillibet grows them in her garden. It’s hard work, digging and weeding and watering.”
Benson thought about it. He thought about Aunt Lillibet looking after the baby turnips and the parsley and all the other plants in her garden, watering them so they could grow big and delicious, digging around them and pulling out the weeds.
His mother said, “Maybe you’d like to go and do some weeding while I make some baked turnips?” Benson thought that would be a very good idea.
“We don’t have to eat the thistle salad or the nettle soup?” he said.
“Well, not the thistles, but dandelion leaves are quite nice, you know, and nettle soup can be quite tasty.”
“Really?” said Benson.
“Really,” said his mother.