Cosu summer 2012 view from the summit weed killer illustration navu5v

Image: Thomas Cobb

“They don’t belong here. You should send them packing or ...” So said my new neighbor, Ken.

Shortly after we moved in next door, I walked over to introduce myself. He stood in his perfectly manicured yard over a mound of freshly pulled weeds. His large arms were crossed over his chest as he glared down at the cache of uprooted villains.

We shook hands, and I pointed to my home; he took a quick glance and said, “Soldier, you’re giving comfort to the enemy.” We walked over to my homestead, and Ken gave me a quick tutorial on the scourge of invasive weeds threatening to overrun our state, our town and my neighborhood.

Unbeknownst to me, my yard was filled with invasive weeds that I thought were innocent flowers. Ken, with brutal frankness, pointed out purple loosestrife, yellow toadflax, myrtle spurge and, worse, quite a few Russian knapweed, a vicious Commie pest from the former Soviet Union still fighting the cold war. Some had already flowered and actually looked pretty, but I soon learned that looks can be deceiving. “If you let them get a foothold, they will take over the entire neighborhood,” Ken told me, through clenched teeth. “They need to die.”

When I suggested borrowing a Weed Whacker to cut down the nonnative interlopers, he hit the roof. “You don’t understand, mister. Those things have roots deeper than Alex Haley’s. You have two choices: yank them from the earth, or use poison.”

I reasoned that if you felt strongly enough to kill something, you should at least have the guts to look your victim in the eyes. So, after putting on kneepads, gloves and sunscreen, I went to war. After two hours I was burned, dirty and stiff; I had pulled many weeds but left most of the roots.

It’s no surprise that both plants and animals have a leg up on humans in terms of design, durability and adaptive qualities. Animals are faster, they’re stronger and they don’t require toilet paper. If they had thumbs, they would be hunting us. By the same token, plants can live, flourish and adapt to environments that would kill the hardiest of humans. What we have over both plants and animals is the ability to reason. And credit cards.

Because I can, I went out and bought a Weed Hound.

A Weed Hound is a three-foot metal pipe with sharpened prongs at the end. You stick the Punjab prongs into the heart of the pest and push down with your foot. At the opposite end of the prongs is a crank that applies a death grip to the weeds’ vital organs and allows you to rip the creature from the earth, roots and all.

My yard, once blooming with nonnative flowers, is now bare and pitted like the craters of the moon. It seems weeds made up the lion’s share of my landscaping. Without them, my plantation looks like Chernobyl on a bad day.

Working late into the evening, I had the satisfaction of knowing I had done my best to keep my neighborhood pure and my front yard barren. I looked down the street toward Ken’s house and saw the glow of his night vision binoculars. I knew he was watching, and I’m guessing he approves.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at [email protected] Biff’s book, Steep, Deep and Dyslexic, is available at local bookstores or via 

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