This commentary first appeared in the Washington Post Op-Ed section
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 sauteed 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 follow up 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 for my lawn, but the legacy of our former President is that I have learned to to damn the consequences and press onward. The buds are swelling, and the threat is imminent. I have no choice. Thank you President Bush for showing me the way.
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