Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Foot Soldier for Graminoids

Allowing my eyes to slowly focus upward, I observed a sturdy green stem rising up from the soil. At its peak it firmly supported an oversized white puff, a magnificent geometric structure comprised of countless soft protrusions anchored to a central head, fanning out in all directions to create a sphere of evenly-spaced silver eyelashes.

My own eyelashes blinked, and I dismissed the romanticism. My gloved hand reached forward, dug at the soil around the base of the dandelion, and yanked the weed, roots and all, from its spot in the lawn. I tossed the uprooted plant into a paper bag and continued weeding.

It was vital that the infestation be removed before it could reproduce and overtake the lawn. It was my job, as resident human of the property, to ensure the survival of the grass species and the demise of most others. "Weeds," we called them: plants guilty of crimes against nature, such as overproduction, use of soil minerals, and thievery of sunlight.

The weeds needed to be destroyed. The only species allowed to inhabit the lawn was the grass, in all of its green bladed glory. Grass grew and was trimmed; weeds spread and were killed. Grass attracted friendly cows and worms; weeds unleashed plagues of butterflies and rabbits. Grass created a beautiful green flatland; weeds bloomed into unholy holly leaves, unfortunate four-leaf clovers, and hideously dull dandelion flowers.

As human beings, it was our responsibility to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil. This extended into the world of botany. There were simply some plants which are good, like grass and colorful flowers, and others which were evil, like Bermuda grass or Goldenrod flowers.

While animals may not seem to be able to tell the difference, this likely stems from the common knowledge that humans are the species possessing superior intellect. Creatures of the wild do not understand the dangers of untamed plants, whose only goal in life seems to be soaking up all available nutrients, growing as large as possible, and overpopulating the world with more of itself. A species with that sort of biological programming is a danger to us all.

Fortunately, the humans had come to the rescue. Rooting for the home team of grass blades and bristling bushes, humanity had produced a variety of toxic chemicals, herbicides, and fertilizers capable of endangering even the most persistent of unwanted plant-life. The extinction of entire plant species would be possible, thanks to the innovative spirit of human nature-lovers around the world. Any dangers associated with the use of such botanic medicines had almost certainly been fabricated by backward-thinking primitives with no knowledge of the modern world around them, nor appreciation for life, health, or the environment.

I smiled, knowing that, as I tore the tiny creatures from the soil, I was doing a service almost as dear as that which the great scientists did who invented the fast-acting compounds capable of isolating and exterminating weeds effortlessly. Perhaps it was time to purchase some of that.

The plant war was waging, and I was a foot soldier for graminoids.

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