2008-06-07 The Coalition of the Weeding
This article appeared in the Washington Post
Op-Ed section on 6/7/2008
I have adopted the Bush Doctrine. I am planning pre-emptive attacks against an adversary so insidious that it menaces not only my own home but threatens to destabilize my entire neighborhood.
For years after I moved from the country I ignored the dandelions. I thought they were pretty, both the yellow flowers and the puffy delicate seeds that looked like a field of little old ladies growing in my yard. Then, last year, when I went on vacation in April, my neighbor cut my lawn for me without being asked to do so. I got the memo. Dandelions were a terrorist threat, and I was not a part of the suburban coalition.
So I went into the yard with a large screwdriver and crawled around on my knees rooting them out. They ignored me and continued their history of bad behavior. And my back hurt. Then I purchased a gizmo that allowed me to stand upright and step on a lever dingus that worked with my foot so I could pop them up, taproot and all. They mocked me.
I tried eating them. The young leaves are used in salads or sautèed in some cultures. Why was I surprised when they were bitter? Dandelion wine? I prefer grape, thank you.
Then I read in an article in which a scientist said that a plant like the dandelion can secrete a toxin that kills other plants. They are cold-blooded killers capable of using chemical warfare on their neighbors! No the French named it dent de lion, tooth of the lion. I knew it was time to change regimes, time to depose the Lion of Suburbia.
This year my strategy has a two-pronged attack called shock and awe. I will muster the latest in technology and take first strike action. I will begin by carpet bombing with pellets of "Weed & Feed", a lawn fertilizer laced with poisons for broadleafs. I will followup with smart-bombing runs applied with pinpoint accuracy on each individual plant, right down the enemy's throat, with a squirt gun-like gizmo.
There may be collateral damage, but I can no longer stick to failed strategies. I hope the lovely little lavender wild violets survive, and I am concerned about the squirrels who have buried their nuts in my lawn, and the early birds breakfasting on worms, and the dogs who wander by sniffing the ground. And I wonder how many of the chemicals will seep into my drinking water.
The labels say that bluegrass will send its rhizomes into the power vacuum when the dandelions die. But I fear that this information may be self-serving and crabgrass will fill the void. Will it be all over quickly or will the battle drag on all summer and into next year? What will I do if I fail?
I do not know what lies ahead but the President has taught me to damn the consequences and press onward. The snow has melted, the buds are swelling, and the threat is imminent. I have no choice. Thank you President Bush for showing me the way.
Remember: No rules in the bedroom or the kitchen. - Meathead
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