Once again it is time for chemical warfare. The dandelions arrived in my lawn and are joyfully celebrating with a spurt of growth ecstasy. I don’t know what it is about a dandelion that freezes my blood and turns me into a crazed executioner. Somehow whenever I see their little yellow heads, I begin to plot murder and know that these weeds must be done away with.
My pitiful flowerbeds seem to become more infested every year. I used to actually enjoyed gardening. I still like flowers, but the gardening part is getting more and more questionable and the easy solution of a mulch ground cover is becoming more and more attractive with each passing season.
Normal women, of course, take care of the home on the inside and leave the yard work to obliging or, at worse, disgruntled husbands. Liberated women buy condos. Stupid women have partners who grew up in the city and think dandelions are wildflowers that should be left alone. “Who am I to question their right to exist,” says my honey. Argh! Everything is a philosophical debate – even weeds! It is simpler to do the deed myself than to justify the existential need for it.
As any gardener knows, dandelions are one of the most sinister of weeds to deal with. I develop an insidious plan of death, carefully calculating my premeditated murder. Dandelions are born survivors. These innocent looking yellow wildflowers will turn into raging savages overnight, sending up hideous growths of ugly seeds that scatter in the wind and spread their demon offspring. They have deep roots like carrots that are brittle and really cannot be pulled up without breaking. Leave one tiny root and the weed will soon recover and reappear reincarnated and ready for a second life. This means they practically have to be dug out of the ground, a job I detest.
A little place of my own with land, fresh air and breathing space, a yard for the kids and pets, life in suburbia – the American dream. I hate it! For the lawn, I finally had to resort to calling in professional help. One day in the throes of a guerilla assault from foot-high dandelions with roots that spoke Chinese, I realized that my defenses were too weak. I was being overrun and I had to have reinforcements… quickly.
The lawn service came to the rescue and treated the yard. It only costs me an arm and a leg – small price for dandelion control, they said. Plus they threw in control of other weeds for no extra charge. However, unless I sign up for the full service for which I must take a second mortgage on my home, sign a contract in blood, and mention them for an inheritance in my will, they won’t come back for follow-ups. I decided to save money and take care of the follow-up part myself. This means that the yellow-headed monsters reappear quickly along driveways and sidewalks where the grass is scarce. It is maddening! How do you get rid of these things? Land mines?
I went to the local hardware store where there is a giant arsenal of weed weapons geared to the different militant needs of gardeners. You can kill weeds without killing grass, kill selected weeds, or just kill everything at random. I usually opt for the “kill weeds only” spray unless it is for a place where absolutely nothing needs to grow, like the cracks of the sidewalk.
There were no automatic assault weapons available for defensive dandelion warfare. What a shame! The ammunition comes in “ready mix,” but the condensed type that is not pre-mixed is far more practical. The smell of the stuff is indescribable, sort of like rotten eggs, boiled cabbage and paint thinner. I respect chemicals – who wouldn’t with a smell like that? It probably could gas the weeds to death without touching them.
Even after messing, mixing and spraying, the weeds shrivel and cough for weeks before they finally succumb. The dose of death seems to actually stimulate them and they rush to mature and seed before they depart the world. In their last hurrah, their yellow hair turns gray and the seeds are blown to the wind to create another season of torment.
I wish I could adopt a “live and let live” attitude towards weeds. I try to ignore them, but sooner or later, I always relent. The longer I wait to attack, the worse it is, of course. I made my first round the other day, a sniper with a premixed hand-pump knocking off a few selected victims: a squirt here, a spray from behind a tree there, an around the corner maneuver. My neighbors didn’t even blink when they saw my combat boots.
I think I will call the professional mercenary weed killers again and see exactly how many rounds I have to agree to before they will do a follow-up assault. A few of the stubborn renegades always seem to escape, lay low for a while, and then counterattack as soon as my defenses are down. I am sure the dandelions will dig in, as usual, and the war will continue through spring and summer.
I didn’t know life in suburbia would be so complicated. Nobody told me about these annual dandelion skirmishes. I may have to concrete the lawn and paint it green. Now I know why cities developed. It had nothing to do with population density. It was a means of self-defense against invading dandelions.