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author:  Margie Culbertson

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Invasion of the Dandelions


Sheila Moss, humor columnist

Once again it is spring and time for chemical warfare. The dandelionshave arrived in my lawn and are joyfully celebrating the arrival of thewarmer weather with a spurt of growth ecstasy. I don't know what it isabout a dandelion that freezes my blood and turns me into a crazedexecutioner. Somehow, whenever I see their little yellow heads I beginto plot murder, and I know that these weeds must be done away with. Mypitiful flower beds seem to become more infested every year. I used toactually enjoyed gardening. I still like flowers, but the easy solutionof a mulch ground cover is becoming more and more attractive with eachpassing season.

Normal women, of course, take care of the home on the inside and leavethe yard work to obliging, or, at worse, disgruntled husbands. Liberatedwomen buy condos. Stupid women have partners who grew up in the city andthink dandelions are wildflowers that should be left alone. "Who am I toquestion their right to exist?" says my honey. Argh! Everything is aphilosophical debate – even weeds! It is simpler to do the deed myselfthan to justify the existential need for it!

As any gardener knows, dandelions are one of the most sinister of weedsto deal with. I develop an insidious plan of death, carefullycalculating my premeditated murder. Dandelions are born survivors. Theseinnocent looking yellow wildflowers will turn into raging savagesovernight, sending up hideous growths of ugly seeds that scatter in thewind and spread their demon offspring. They have deep roots like carrotsthat are brittle and really cannot be pulled up without breaking. Leaveone tiny root and the weed will soon recover and reappear reincarnatedand ready for a second life. This means they practically have to be dugout of the ground, a job I detest.

A little place of my own with land, fresh air and breathing space, ayard for the kids and pets, life in suburbia – it's the American dream.God, how I hate it! I finally had to resort to calling in professionalhelp for the lawn. One day in the throes of a guerilla assault fromfoot high dandelions with roots that spoke Chinese, I realized that mydefenses were too weak. I was being over run and I had to havereinforcements quickly. The lawn service came to the rescue and treatedthe yard. It only costs me an arm and a leg – small price for dandelioncontrol, they said. Plus they threw in control of other weeds for noextra charge. However, unless I sign up for the full service, for whichI must take a second mortgage on my home, sign a contract in blood, andmention them for an inheritance in my will, they won't come back forfollow–ups. This means that the yellow headed monsters will reappearquickly along driveways and sidewalks where the grass is scarce. It ismaddening! How do you get rid of these things – land mines?

I went to the local hardware store where there is a giant arsenal ofweed weapons geared to the different militant needs of gardeners. Youcan kill weeds without killing grass, kill selected weeds, or just killeverything at random. I usually opt for the "kill weeds only" sprayunless it is for a place where absolutely nothing needs to grow, likethe cracks of the sidewalk. There were no automatic assault weaponsavailable for defensive dandelion warfare. That's a shame! Theammunition comes in "ready mix," but the condensed type that is notpre–mixed is far more practical. The smell of the stuff isindescribable, sort of like rotten eggs, boiled cabbage and paintthinner. I respect chemicals. Who wouldn't with a smell like that? Itprobably could gas the weeds to death without touching them.

One must have a weapon to spread the chemicals, either a spray can topump, or an attachment to put on the hose that mixes the poisonautomatically. For entire lawns there are dry mixes, but these need tobe applied to wet lawns, are not as effective, and are really not toogood for treating small, specific areas. Even after messing, mixing andspraying, the weeds shrivel and cough for weeks before they finallysuccumb. The dose of death seems to actually stimulate them, and theyrush to mature and seed before they depart the world. In their lasthurrah their yellow hair turns gray, and the seeds are blown to the windto create another season of torment.

I wish I could adopt a "live and let live" attitude towards weeds. I tryto ignore them, but sooner or later I always relent. The longer I waitto attack, the worse it is, of course. I made my first round the otherday, a sniper with a premixed hand pump knocking off a few selectedvictims: a squirt here, a spray from behind a tree there, an around thecorner maneuver. My neighbors didn't even blink when they saw myfatigues and combat boots.

I think I will call the professional, mercenary weed killers again andsee exactly how many rounds I have to agree to before they will do afollow–up assault. A few of the stubborn renegades always seem toescape, lay low for a while, and then counterattack as soon as mydefenses are down. I am sure the dandelions will dig in, as usual, andthe war will continue all through spring and into the summer.

I didn't know life in suburbia would be so complicated. Nobody told meabout these annual dandelion skirmishes. I think I may have to concretethe lawn and paint it green. Now I know the real reason that citiesdeveloped. It had nothing to do with population density. It was a meansof self defense against invading dandelions.

Copyright 2000 Sheila Moss

ABOUT the author:

Sheila Moss, The Tennessee Firefly, is a free–lance humor columnist.She spends most of her time waiting for elevators and commuting from thesuburbs to her office in downtown Nashville. Nevertheless, she stillmanages to find time to write and publish weekly humor columns on herown web site "Humor Columnist.Com" and to write humor for various otherInternet forums and web sites. She is a member of The Net Wits, anInternational organization of humor columnists, and an editor for amajor search engine. She is listed as a columnist by Yahoo andoccasionally her website is featured on a major humor site. When thishappens, her computer always immediately crashes. Join her mailing listfor a weekly laugh!

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