Choosing an Enemy

I hereby declare this Blog a politics free zone.  At least for this week. Right now I’ve got more pressing matters on my mind

This very morning, as I sat contemplating the greenery bursting into life beyond my patio door, I suddenly realized there was a bandit staring at me from the deck , his little black mask firmly in place.  He stood up and put his inquisitive little hands on the glass and peered at me quite intently.  I knew exactly what he was thinking.

“Ah-ha – I’ve found you. Grandpa Coon over on Balsam Lake told me all about you.  Said you were a good laugh.  Hey, fella, you ready for another round?”

Oh heck, I thought, Plus ça change and all that remaining-the-same stuff, here we go again. Did his gang really have to chase me into the city?  And right now, out on my front lawn, Charlie the predator is waking up.

Now as I said in the first instalment of this Blog, one purpose of it is to see if we’ve made any progress in the past few decades. So okay, let’s go back to 1987 and take a look.  At that time my wife and I were living on the shores of Balsam Lake, the uppermost level of the gorgeous Kawarthas.

                                    Choosing an Enemy

I think of myself as a peace loving man but at least once a year I declare war.

I have heard it said that every person wages at least one major war in the course of a lifetime but I see no reason that should exclude one mini-war every year.

Right now I’m trying to decide whether I’m going to join battle with coons, or Creeping Charlie. It’s a tough choice.

There are a couple of coons at my place who are really asking for it.  They’ve been living under a guest cabin near the waterfront (having dispossessed a family of resident groundhogs without so much as asking my permission). About every third night they come up to the house and raid the metal garbage pail.

I consider it’s a coon’s right to attack a garbage pail but it’s my right to lash the lid so tightly with heavy rubber tie-downs that even my wife can’t get it off.  What burns me is that the blighters have been breaking in anyway.

I find the pail rolled halfway down the backyard, with garbage littering the lawn, AND THE LID STILL TIGHTLY FASTENED.

I figure one raider must be using a crowbar to pry the lid up while the other reaches in and extracts the goodies. How does one deal with crowbar wielding coons, short of vigilante justice and capital punishment? [Confession.  Writers don’t tell all.  I remember I found they’d levered a flap of the base loose.  Probably didn’t need a crowbar.  A pry bar would have done. Later I blew up balloons and put them on top under the lid hoping that, as tiny claws punctured the rubber, the explosions would be a deterrent.  That only provided entertainment — for them.]

Another invader is the Creeping Charlie that’s been taking over my lawn.  Its tight little leaves and tiny flowers are out there right now, competing with the dandelions for total possession.

I can spray the dandelions into submission but the stuff that defeats them is also supposed to defeat Creeping Charlie.  Not my Charlie.  It thrives on poison. [Update. Poison is now forbidden. Score one for Charlie.]

I’ve been told to fertilize well so the grass will choke out Charlie.  Charlie grabs the fertilizer before the grass can get at it.

I’ve been told to try a little top dressing and sprinkle new grass seed.  Charlie eats the grass seed the minute it hits dirt.

It’s obvious that predatory Creeping Charlie and coons who use tools are not to be  underestimated as foes. There is no way I want to declare war on two fronts at once against such adversaries.

It occurs to me that a civilized and relaxing way to handle both problems would be to accept them.

Why shouldn’t coons eat my garbage?  It’s the after-banquet litter I object to.  I’m thinking of building a coon feeder that will dispense the garbage to them upon request, minus plastic bags and cartons.  If they promise to leave the crowbar at home they can pull levers or push buttons that will release chicken bones or potato peelings or whatever.  Of course, I’d insist on a non-aggression treaty and limited immigration. I can see several seasons of negotiations ahead dealing with zero population growth.

As for Creeping Charlie, who says a lawn has to be covered with grass?  Charlie is green, ground hugging, and bears flowers. Grass grows tall and straggly, has no flowers, and unless one keeps goats has no practical use. Grass must be mowed constantly with great expenditure of human effort in a mechanized process that pollutes the air and creates noise.

Many years ago in Korea I saw a lawn grass that never grew higher than a couple of inches but the Koreans have chosen to sell cars to some of us instead of grass to all of us, so why don’t we adopt Creeping Charlie?

I recommend Charlie to the builders of Big TO’s domed stadium. Shade, sun and cement are all the same to Charlie and I can’t imagine that a three hundred pound stomping from cleated boots would so much as bruise a leaf.

If we’re willing to adopt Charlie as a lawn cover, why not go all out and embrace the dandelions?  Why am I even contemplating going out with a heavy spray can full of poison? I don’t enjoy pumping up the pressure, and there are enough chemicals in the air and on the ground without me exerting myself to add more.

My wife has clusters of tulips, crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils virtually growing wild on the spring lawn, emulating Wordsworth’s flowery host, “beside the lake, beneath the trees, waving and dancing in the breeze”.  I bet if Wordsworth had happened to eulogize dandelions instead of daffodils I’d not be rushing out this afternoon to spray, spear, cut and otherwise terrorize dandelions. [See previous update. Now I go out and dig them up.  At least the holes aerate the lawn.]

What a pretty little flower a dandelion is!  And it turns into sheer gossamer.  It also can be turned into wine, laxative, and tonic.  How dare we attack it!

Where do we acquire these cultural aberrations, anyway?  If the Bible had exhorted us to consider the dandelions and the Creeping Charlie of the field, would I be hurrying out to kill lilies instead?  Probably.

Anyway, being a slave to culture, this season I MUST declare war on either the coons or Charlie.

I am happy to report that now, in 2011, civilization has progressed to the point where I don’t have to declare war on either of them.  Reasonable accommodation is the name of the game.  I keep the garbage pail in the garage until pick-up morning and Charlie only finds roots wrenched when he intrudes into the flower beds. Progress, friends.  Progress.

 ♣ Choosing an Enemy
From Down Paradox Lane
Lindsay This week, May 19, 1987
Copyright © Munroe Scott

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About Munroe Scott

Munroe Scott is a veteran of the freelance writing world.
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