by Mike McHugh
Most people are happy when what passes for winter around here finally loosens its grip on our state. I’m not one of them. The way I see it, Louisiana has two seasons—winter and Nature on Steroids. Now that the last cold front has passed, the grass and weeds and ants are storming the gates, so I suppose it’s time to shore up my defenses. This isn’t fair; I mean, couldn’t they at least wait until the end of hockey season?
It’s not in a Yankee’s blood to open the shed and pull out his lawn equipment before Easter Sunday. It’s not in my blood to do so before the Fourth of July, if at all. But Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care where I’m from. In fact, she seems to know and uses it to her advantage. “Look,” the weeds murmur amongst tone another as they look for somewhere to take root, “I saw a guy come out of that house wearing a Boston Bruins jersey. His yard should be safe for a while.”
And they’d be right. My yard provides a safe haven for weeds for at least the first few months, until I can get my lawn equipment back in working order. Every year, it’s as if, on some winter night, the Iranians had exploded a thermonuclear device directly above my shed, emitting an electromagnetic pulse that rendered every powered implement completely inoperable. “It’s okay,” is all I can think, “I’m sure it was for peaceful purposes.”
Meanwhile, my neighbors’ equipment seems unaffected by the blast, thus ruining any hope I might have to sleep in on a Saturday morning. Round about seven AM, they proceed to fire up their mowers and weed-trimmers in unison, and my bedroom sounds like it’s situated at the end of an airport runway.
While my yard is quickly transforming itself into a rainforest, I’m amazed at how hard it is to get those few plants that I want to grow. A couple of years ago, I let my wife talk me into putting in landscaping around the front of our house. “I’ll do it on one condition,” I told her. “It’s got to be low maintenance.”
“Fine,” she said. “Do you have any particular design in mind?”
“How about parking lot?” I suggested.
Unfortunately, she was thinking about something more natural, involving actual living plants. But it turns out is that landscaping plants are the frailest organisms on the planet. They die if you just spit in their direction, whereas to the weeds the manicured plots are like Disney World.
The only way to keep the good plants happy and the evil ones at bay is with generous applications of mulch. So now every spring, we’re obligated to have the landscaper come and dump a pile of mulch in our driveway that temporarily qualifies as being the highest point in the state, barely edging out one of several anthills growing in the front yard.
I often ask myself if it’s worth all this trouble so that I can have my own little suburban Garden of Eden. I’d have to think so, although I can understand now why Adam saw fit to take a bite out of that apple. The Bible doesn’t say where he went after getting kicked out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Eve moved into a condo.