I have a new toy for pulling weeds. Our lawn has lots of weeds. More accurately, our weeds have a little lawn in between them. During the summer, I can hide most of our weeds by mowing them to the same level as the grass. From the far side of the street, the green and level area surrounding my house looks almost like a regular lawn.
In Dandelion season, there is no hiding my shame. As my son used to say whenever he looked over our ¼ acre estate, “Look at all the pretty yellow flowers.” Dandelions send up a bright yellow flag of neglect, signaling to the world my impotence as a groundskeeper.
I don’t mind Dandelions. My parents were farmers, and when you’ve got cows to milk, hay to bail, and a myriad pieces of equipment to keep running, it’s hard to give a rat’s ass about Dandelions. My parents didn’t, and up until now, neither have I.
But I don’t live on a farm anymore. I’ve started to concern myself with Dandelions because I’m beginning to feel like the Typhoid Mary of weeds in my neighborhood. Dandelions want a better life for their children. So they send their little seedlings this way and that to search for greener pastures, or in this case, lawns.
Periodically, I try to show respect for those around me. The latest flare-up of this civil attitude has inspired me to attempt to nip the coming neighborhood Dandelion infestation at it source. I’ve already tried to spray the horde into submission, but poison is an unreliable murder weapon. It left the Dandelions listless for a day; then it made them angry.
They’ve come back with a vengeance. My new weapon resembles a metal cane with a circle of spikes at the bottom and a little ledge to step upon. You place the bottom of the cane on top of the victim, step on the ledge, twist, and pull out the weed by the roots.
It works so well that the entire family wants to play with it. My son had to be the first to try it, but he’s too light to make it work efficiently. Then, my wife got hold of it.
My wife is a champion of maintaining the interior of a house, but her dominion ends at the threshold. She has rarely shown an interest in keeping up the appearance of the outdoors. This she considers to be the responsibility of Nature, with my occasional, if ineffective, help.
But once she tried my new toy, she was hooked. She’s spent two evenings in a row battling Dandelions. This sounds like a happy ending for me, right? No work and no Dandelions.
My wife, for all her strengths, is not the most proficient Dandelion hunter. Dandelion stems tend to lean off to the side (damn their milky souls), so if you aim for the bright, decoying flower, you will surely miss the root. My wife has made a regular hobby of missing the root.
She regularly pulls up out of the ground a wisp of Dandelion petal, a shock of our all-too-precious grass, and a clump of soil. Still nestled safely into the ground is the bulk of the Dandelion plant, waiting until she turns her back to send up a fresh stem.
I tried to show her how to locate the root, but she shook off my advice. “That stuff is all green down there,” she said. “How am I supposed to identify anything in that mess?”
“All you’re doing is surrounding the Dandelions with holes,” I told her. “There’s not going to be any grass left.”
She shrugged. “Well, it will just be the year without a lawn.”
And so it may be, if I can’t break her odd fascination with my new toy.