Forays into WeedWhackage

Over the years, I've known a number of people who have plots of earth adjacent to their residences, to which they apply varying amounts of calories, time, effort, money, contraptions, tools, mixes, chemicals, fossil-fuels, and fossil-fuel derivatives in the practice of gardening and/or yard care. Having never really had any such plots of my own, I would occasionally note that while these people were outside getting sunburned, stung by insects, treated to a multitude of skin and respiratory allergies, and complaining about the pain in their backs, the stains on their clothes, or how much their knees hurt, I was doing something productive. Like playing guitar.

And over the years, sometimes these people would note: "Oh, hey, well, if you ever get a yard or something, we've got a spare weedwhacker out in the shed we don't use anymore. You're welcome to borrow it." I filed these offers away in my brain, never thinking I'd pursue any of them but... well, an offer's an offer, a chit's a chit, and there may not be such thing as a free lunch, but lunches are occasionally discounted as loss leaders. You never know when you might need a weedwhacker.

So, the new digs has a yard. Yards, actually, though they're small. They can't really be mowed—too many roots from well-established trees—but they were getting to the point where they clearly needed some attention. So I riffled through my brain, started sorting offers and chits, and picked up the phone in search of a weedwhacker I could borrow until I could work out a solution of my own. (Like maybe moss. Lots and lots of moss. But I digress.)

Inevitably, the conversations started like this: "Oh, sure, we still have the spare. Next time I'm out at the shed I'll fire it up and see if it works!" And ended a few days later like this:

"Oh, well, yeah, it works, but I remember why we stopped using it now. It starts smoking and seeming like it's going to catch on fire."

"Yeah, it still works, but that little gas tank at the end is cracked, so you wind up sloshing gasoline all over yourself. No biggie, right?"

"Yeah, it still works, but it was out of cord. I called a couple places and they said they can't get spindles for these anymore: I guess the factory in Korea which made these shut down. You could probably buy some high test fishing line or something."

And, in one case:

"Oh, it still works fine, but we gave it to my brother-in-law last summer. Sorry!"

There I was, with a lawn going to seed and still no weedwhacker. Chits indeed.

So I hit up Jeff Carlson, a local compatriot who, last I saw, had a suspiciously well-tended yard, and asked if maybe I can perhaps borrow his weedwhacker for a quick lawnectomy to buy me a little bit of time so I can work out my own solution? "Sure!" he says with suspicious enthusiasm, and a couple days later he and Glenn Fleishman show up at my doorstep, weedwhacker in hand. (Should this seem odd, I should add that Glenn and Jeff share office space within easy walking distance of my humble abode.) They take advantage of the opportunity to get a quick tour of the house, and I take the opportunity to press Glenn into service identifying varying growths in the back yard for, being the spouse of a confirmed horticulturalist, he probably has more of a clue than I do about what's a plant, what's a flower, and what's a weed.

And indeed he does! "That's alyssum," he says, pointing. "Those are poppies. That's not a weed, that's foxglove. That's Lilly of the Valley. This is probably a variety of clematis. There's some raspberry coming over the fence. Oh, look, that's a fig tree!"

"And, uh, those?" I ask tentatively, pointing to some tall, very healthy plants.

"Just weeds. All of 'em. And some grass."


See, I'd hoped those tall, healthy, stalwart plants were... you know, something deliberate. Instead, they are Weed Variety #3. Which I'd helped out considerably by repeatedly removing Weed Varieties #1 and #2 from their midst at considerable effort.

And now they're so tall, a weedwhacker isn't even going to faze'em.

Related Entries