Joe and I lived in a little rental house for 12 years before we bought our current home. We made some nice improvements to that little place, but one thing we had big hearts and ideas for, but were just never very successful at, was our yard. We really tried, but it seemed like the ground was just rebellious, stubborn, and downright evil at times – the ground that Satan trod upon – when it came to weeds. In particular, dandelions.
The woman who owned the rental next door to our house just happened to be the daughter of the man who owned our house, and she felt compelled to share with us, every time she dropped by her rental, handy garden tips on keeping those nasty weeds down. She even went so far as to leave a jug-o-poison on our back porch one day. Now, we’re what you might call organic in our approach to killing things, using lady bugs for aphids, or biodegradable soap, or once using cayenne pepper on the sunflowers to deter the apparently Cajun squirrel who quite vindictively broke the heads off each flower one by one in a long row down our driveway wall. (We pulled up in the car one day and caught the little bugger red-squirrel-creepily-human-like-handed, and tried to scare it with the car by gunning after it and it ran a little way into the yard and stopped, turned and stared at us defiantly, a garland of yellow sunflower petals around its furry neck, sunflower seeds sticking out of its sneering grin. I got so mad I jumped out of the car before it stopped and ran over and grabbed the nearest weapon I could find, a heavy round garden sprinkler head and hurled it after the little beast, The Destroyer of All that is Good and Golden, and it actually turned and ran toward me!) But I digress. Weeds, we were talking about. Weeds.
To get the Yard Nazi (as we took to calling her) off our backs Joe threw his principles to the wind and used the poison, skull and crossbones flashing in his eyes. The dandelions were gone for a few days then we noticed they were growing back tenfold, with wicked crooked stems, and our tulips were also growing gnarled looking and grotesquely wrong. Dr. Seuss having a nightmare after eating spicy pizza before bed. Our yard was suddenly a Tim Burton set. We went back to our manual weed puller with the snake-like forked prongs, blisters, sore knees and aching backs.
A couple of years ago at an Earth Day event, we happened across a tool they were giving away called The Weed Hound, and it has been my trusty, faithful friend ever since. I should call it Lassie. What girl? Is that a weed you see? Show me where, girl! Now that the yard is truly our own the sight of a yellow dandelion head jeering at me in the lush green of our lawn has me grabbing the Hound, nonchalantly twirling it like Charlie Chaplin’s cane out to meet the little devil face to face. Then I aim it at the offending weed; Say hello to my lil’ fren…It’s such a joy to jab the metal jaws into the center of the dandelion greens, stomp on the pedal, like half a pogo stick, give a twist and yank that bad boy out of the ground roots and all. Next I like to smack the top of the handle to release my prey and it goes shooting out into the weed bucket I have at the ready. Of course, if the dandelion has escaped my notice long enough and has transformed into that delightfully, deceptively romantic little puff-ball of translucent blow-me seeds, I approach it with all caution, all Hurt Locker deep-sea diver breathing and concentration, and pull it slowly out of the ground and oh-so-carefully push it down as deep as I can into the bucket before it explodes. Because to me, there’s nothing dandy about dandelions.