For just the briefest moment, as I boarded the train this week, I dreaded going to the farm.  Last week, we started weeding and spent a couple of hours each evening as the air was starting to cool, squatting, yanking, and, on occasion cursing.  We didn’t get very far (probably too much cursing).  So the thought of all the weeds that have to be pulled this week (including those that have grown back in the same places we pulled them last week) was a little disheartening.

I once asked a more skilled gardener than myself if something growing among the peonies was a weed or not?  “Anything growing in your garden that you don’t want is a weed.”

But, I quickly decided to re-frame my thoughts.  Perhaps there can be some beauty in weeds.  Right?  I mean, at some point in the history of the world, they served some purpose, so they can’t be all that bad.

So I vow to take a moment with each pluck this weekend and appreciate the beauty of the weed.


This weed is fond of growing up among the hollyhocks.  I worked really hard last summer pulling up its ancestors, so there were many fewer of these this year.


I like to call these thistles “devil weed”.  They just look evil.


This weed reminds me of a quill pen.  There were not that many of them last year, so I didn’t bother with them.  Big mistake.  This year they are EVERYWHERE.  When the wind catches those fronds, it must scatter seeds for yards.  Genius.


This is a new comer.  It was almost pretty enough to keep.


Another newcomer, but I can tell just by looking that he’s bad news.

THE TRAIN REPORT (each week I’ll also give you a glimpse on what our train ride was like):

Train was full and on time.
I sat across the aisle from a mom and a child who were just plain annoying.  (Please tell me that you, too, have come across those people who annoy you for no real reason.  This will make me feel like less of a bad person for having those thoughts.)


A thunderstorm rolls through the Mohawk Valley
A thunderstorm rolls through the Mohawk Valley

Sunday morning started with a thunderstorm.  The ominous clouds and deafening claps immediately made me happy.  Rain meant it was far too muddy for any more work in the flower garden.  I had had enough, and I don’t believe in telling you otherwise.  When something is idyllic and romantic, you know by now that I’m the first to paint a pretty picture, but farm life is just not always picture perfect.

Also not quite picture perfect (yet) is the new manufacturing facility for Beekman 1802 soap.  It’s truly amazing how quickly demand for the soap outgrew the little barn annex facility (thank you!).

We spent Sunday not resting, but cleaning out the large new space that is right in the center of the village of Sharon Springs.  It’s almost 2,000 sq feet.  The soaps (and new lotions we are developing) will be manufactured in the back, and in the front, our soap-maker extraordinaire, Deb MacGillicuddy, will open her own mercantile.  If you ever find yourself in our neck of the woods, please stop by and say ‘hi’.

Where BEEKMAN 1802 Soap is made
Where BEEKMAN 1802 Soap is made

The new factory was once a fancy department store that originally opened in 1910.

These solid oak shelves are built into the wall, and looked so beautiful after a nice scrubbing with Murphy’s Oil soap.
These solid oak shelves are built into the wall, and looked so beautiful after a nice scrubbing with Murphy’s Oil soap.
Many of the drawer bottoms were made form old soap boxes. Quite appropriate.
Many of the drawer bottoms were made form old soap boxes. Quite appropriate.
The solid oak staircase in the back of the store. They just don’t make them like this anymore.
The solid oak staircase in the back of the store. They just don’t make them like this anymore.


25 minutes late
Coming from the fresh country air made stepping into the stagnant air on the train that much worse today.  I almost had to ask the conductor to spray something.  That’s how bad it was! We had nice company from our friend Ross Wasserman, and I hurriedly finished this blog entry so I could finish reading Michael Pollan’s latest book, In Defense of Food.  It’s eye opening.

by Dr. Brent

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Marcia L Clarke

Brent, Have you identified your pretty new comer yet? It's a wild aster! Lots of our cultivated varieties of flowers have been bred from weeds. I'm tempted to let the purslane in my garden grow just to see how much the blossoms resemble my favorite annual, portulaca.

Mitch Smith

I'm so glad that you guys are doing something with that building. We peeked in the windows this past weekend and thought what a shame it was just sitting there. I'm glad Deb will have a bigger space also. Tell her that I'll help her next time we are in town.. (she'll know what I mean..) : )


read this Anonymous quote … A Weed is But a Flower…in Disquise… Don't ya love that?

Is that devil weed in the endive family?

Enjoy the train rides for me. Would love to do that again.

Found a sample sized squirt bottle of Febreeze at Wal-Mart

this week. Just in time for a trip by air…


Of course you're not a bad person for being annoyed with someone on the train. It happens to all of us -especially if we're tired; and most especially if they never shut up!

Love your pictures of weeds. They can be beautiful, but speaking of annoying! I've never understood how weeds in my vegetable garden can manage to grow 2-3 inches overnight, but the vegetables don't. One of the wonders of nature I guess.

suzanne spina

I too dislike weeding and have planted English Ivy in my gardens to keep the weeds at bay. Works like a charm. No mulching either, which I find backbreaking and a waste of money. On the opposite sides of my stone walls that surround my yard I have allowed nature to take its course and I like the way it looks…a natural array of "flowering weeds" and ferns close to the woods that are actually colorful and pretty to see at a distance.

I feel your pain on the train. Our train along the Connecticut shoreline route is always late and crowded.


I know the thistles seem mean to you but seeing the pictures of the thistles brought back fond memories of my Scottish wedding! Thank you for sharing!! Congrats on the beautiful building! It looks amazing!

Terry Corigliano

So happy Deb is taking over that store. The interior is awesome. Can't wait to see her there, maybe by the time we visit again.


Great to make one think of the beauty of weeds. I find it amazing that it seems every year there is a new weed that springs up. Seems those birds and the winds are always busy bringing us new varieties. Wonderful news that another building is coming back to life in Sharon Springs. From the pictures, it appears that very little remuddling took place. Glad to see the the art glass on the front first floor windows was saved. Curious as to what is underneath the dropped ceilings. Many times the ceilings are in excellent shape, as the dropped ceilings were installed to save on heating costs, besides giving a 'modern' look to an interior. Also one final comment, I always chuckle when people talk about recycling as something that it new, when in fact recycling has been going on forever. Woodworkers are probably the best at recycling. I know I have found over the years many examples of that with furniture. Lots of times the backs of chest of drawers, dressers, etc., are made from old wood boxes that were used to ship goods. The wood used to make the boxes was of all varieties, not just pine and oak, as I have found walnut and cherry was sometimes used.