Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, July 21, 2014

An epic battle

For most of last week, it's been me and the weeds in a battle for the ages. I won't say I won, but right now I'm ahead by a half a yard, if you can trust my judgment (I'm hardly an objective observer).

The weather, thank goodness, was perfect. This week's temps promise oppressive summer heat. I don't know that 90-degree temps will change the outcome, but I can't help but worry. Advantage: weeds.

The landscaping crew convinced us that a brand new lawn would start better if they waited until fall. I was okay with that, but the decision left us with as fine a crop of weeds as you'll find in Siouxland, in Calvinist Siouxland, I might add, where weeds, glorious blossoming weeds, are as much a public sin as an illegitimately rounded female belly. Weeds like ours speak for themselves, and what they say is sloth---yes, Sloth of the Seven Deadlies.

Now the backyard soil is sandy and gravely, a blessing from our neighbor to the north, the river. The front yard is blessed with decent topsoil, so the enemy I'm facing is somewhat varied lot-wise, as has been my military strategy. We sprayed once, took most everything out. Agent Orange'll do that. 

But when our garden started producing mutants, guilt raised its ugly head. To some of my friends, 24d is a curse word--I get that. Drifts can kill you and your neighbor. 

Still, when panicked last week, when it looked as if the cause was lost, I sprayed again, not shock and awe, like the first round, but here and there some surgical strikes. I'm sorry, but it felt and looked as if I was in a strangle hold. I had no choice. I had to up the fire power.

But I prefer conventional arms like this guy, adept at both beheading the enemy and improving your golf swing. However, like its descendant, the gas-powered weed whacker, ye old scythe secures a temporary win since it leaves the roots and therefore multiplies enemy forces in something less than a fortnight. The yard looks almost righteous for a couple of days, but when sin returns it's legion.

Really, the most sure way to fight is hand-to-hand.  Jerk 'em, all of 'em, pull 'em up from the roots one at a time. When the ground is as sandy as ours is, that's not hard but it's really tedious. If, like me, you've already had one back surgery, it also means emptying the Aleve just to get out of the chair into bed at night.

But here's the glory--when I pull 'em, they're gone. 

Look at these two shots:  

BEFORE clean-and-jerk

And after.

Viola! See what I mean? That's why jerking 'em, roots and all, is the nuclear option.  And that's what I did.  Mostly.

Now multiply this square inch of God's creation by a whole acre, and you'll begin to understand the pitched battle I'm in. When I was a boy in the Cold War, wave after wave of Chinese soldiers kept me awake at night because a couple of kids in a pillbox just couldn't keep mowing them down. It's like that. I may have won the battle, but the war is far from over because somehow they just keep coming. 

And this week, heat too yet.

Now all of this is of biblical proportions. Pulling weeds is God's work--well, Adam's anyway. It's all the fault of the fall, right? If we lived in Eden, there'd be button weed, no Aleve in the cupboard. It's that simple, right? Cleaning up weeds is our mutual calling.

But I've got friends--good friends, good Christian friends, good Christian friends who are scientists, in fact--who like to say that without a doubt humankind was deeply affected by Adam and Eve's dalliance with forbidden fruit, but nature wasn't, which is to say that weeds aren't somehow sin. I'm not making this up.

Listen, all week long I picked 'em and I've still got a yard full--all week long by scythe, by whacker, by Roundup. But mostly I pulled 'em, one at a frickin' time; and this mastadon-shaped pile, once yellowed, will soon be deliciously devoured in hellish flames.

So I don't want to know it's not sin I'm fighting here in my own square inch. Don't tell me I'm not subduing the earth. If that's in any way true, I don't want to know. The battle is too big, too epic, too biblical. 

I won't hear it. I won't. It's blasphemy.


Anonymous said...

I would use a roto-tiller and chop the weeds up and add organic elements to your soil. You will need to do this about 3-4 times during weed season but it works.

J. C. Schaap said...

Thanks! Great idea.

Anonymous said...

Heck.. skip the blog stuff and start your own garden club.