Part of the blowback of the Seven Years War 1756-1763, which had begun locally in the conflict known as the French and Indian War in 1754, was that Spain, having lost Florida, decided to strengthen its hold on the west coast remnant of its empire - already threatened by Russia at the Northern fringe - by sending in the Franciscans. The support infrastructure required of this endeavor forever polluted the pristine perennial bunch-grass meadowlands that were set like emeralds (or golden tourmalines - depending on the season) in the dusty green of the dominant sclerophyllus vegetation of Alta California.

In a war that ranged from the Americas to almost all of Western Europe and beyond to India, and has plausibly been called the first world war, Britain emerged dominant in India and established the export markets that would drive the Industrial Revolution; the British conquered Canada setting up the re-match with France a few years later - commonly called the American War of Independence; Spain was weakened and ceded Florida to the Brits but, in turn, received France's territories west of the Mississippi; and Prussia emerged as the dominant German state.

For our story it was the Spanish decision to monetize and proselytize their holdings north of Baja that has resonance. Both activities required military back-up and vast logistical support. Beginning in 1769, on a route still celebrated along our state highways by mission bell icons, the Spanish established their supply chain larded with settlements that still largely represents the nexus and nodes that make up urban twenty-first century California.

Along with this overt colonization of mission and presidio came the subtler subversion of the land through the introduction of 'old world' crops and weeds. The character of the grassland was to be dramatically altered when European livestock entered Southern California, with native meadow lands replaced by the yellow undercarpet of bromes, oats, fescues, barleys and mustards that gave rise to the notion of a 'golden' California - not withstanding the discovery at Sutters Mill in 1848. It is to the edenic pre-1769 state that I wish to return the meadows of our property in Upper Ojai.

This historical construct does not go unchallenged. Some have argued that this land was formerly a riot of wildflowers not of bunch grasses. If that is the correct forensic interpretation of the early 18th century meadowland then I have spent many hundreds of dollars on the wrong seed mix.

Fantasy or not, it is the bunch grass theory that forms the background to my exercises in weeding. Think of it as exorcising the ghosts of the black crows - the priests that herded the native americans, broke their bonds of community, dispelled the certainties of their animistic spirit, and introduced the diseases of a world that had been co-habiting with its livestock for far too long - for it was these diseases bred between domestic animals and their human community that decimated the native peoples as much as the destruction of their familiar environment.

I was going to say natural environment, but the tribes of California were vigorous modifiers of the found environment. From fire clearance, casual aggregation of useful plants, hunting and gathering to rock art, painting and primitive water works they forever changed their forage lands. Even now, of course, I am separating the human culture from the natural. As David Bohm, the quantum physicist, has pointed out, fragmentation as a way of thought is profoundly divisive and handicaps our world view to the point of impotence when confronted with problems that are systemic and requiring of a globally united resolution.

Be that as it may, I am pursuing the reactionary position of attempting an arguably pre-1769 meadow as the natural setting for our new house in Upper Ojai. It is to this vision that I have dedicated both my weeding and seeding. Gardening is ultimately a political act: it requires the taking of a position.