The never-ending cycle of the seasons always brings with it some manner of work to be done in the yard. Some see this as a wonderful pastime or hobby, while others, like me, view it as pure and absolute work.
It’s no secret that I have no love for yard work as a whole, but the spring and summer bring grass cutting into the mix, and that ranks with cleaning gutters and shoveling snow on the ‘please kill me now’ scale. The two latter choices are generally once a year in my part of the country but ‘mowing the weeds’ comes all too often for my liking.
I have often considered moving into one of those row housing complexes to rid myself of yard work altogether, but then I would have to give up my driveway and garage, and that will never do. If anything, the newly paved asphalt driveway I had installed this spring was a monumental achievement in the ongoing lawn war.
In a previous blog post entitled, “The Un-Lawn War,” I expounded on the efforts I’d made to purge my gravel drive of dandelions and other pesky weeds. Now with a shimmering layer of black asphalt from the garage to the street, a vast area has been rendered weed free. While further maintenance will surely be needed in the future, for now I can relish one summer without spraying or burning the rocks.
The harsh lesson to be learned here is that one victory does not win a war, as I found my enemy had turned to mercenary tactics. Two summers ago, I unknowingly ran across a small hole in my front yard that housed a nest of yellow jackets. Needless to say, the sound of the mower raised their ire and I jumped, shouted, and slapped myself like some kind of demented masochist until I drenched my entire body with the garden hose. Only the neighbors know what they thought of the whole display, but none of them have ever questioned me about the incident. I can only assume they think it prudent to keep their distance.
What happened later that night probably didn’t improve their perception of me as I returned to the front yard at sunset and filled the hole with gasoline. A squeeze of the trigger on the candle lighter set off a gas-soaked length of twine and the bonfire cast its flickering light skyward. I stood idly by with the garden hose in hand, obviously in no hurry to extinguish the blaze. Little did I know this was harbinger of things to come.
This past week the intense summer heat has forced me to tackle the lawn in sections. While part of me has no sorrow about walking away from a half done lawn, the misery remains that I must return that much sooner to get it completed.
I had risen early on my day off since my wife had to leave for work, and I thought getting finished before the heat of the day set in was a good game plan. As I mowed the section between the houses, I suddenly felt a stabbing pain at the base of my buttocks. The buzzing around my head soon let me know my testy insect foes had returned, albeit in a more discreet location.
Some might say that insects act purely on instinct, and if that is the case then the instincts of the yellow jacket are ruthless indeed. I was wearing long pants at the time, so to venture past the long legs of my six-foot-three-inch frame and continue north to the base of my buttocks takes concentrated effort…or simple vindictive anger. It wasn’t until I went inside to the bathroom and shucked down my underwear that I realized they were inside my pants. Where they buzzed away to I have no clue since I was busy protecting other tender areas of my anatomy.
Later that day, I took a slow, cautious surveillance tour of my front yard to gather valuable intel to mount my counter-strike. I soon found the lawns’ cohorts had been rather busy in my absence as I discovered three more additional holes where scouts came and left with regularity. The simple gasoline torch tactic began to appear like I would need to napalm the entire front yard. This plan has the significant downside of possibly burning down my home, so another strategy needed to be employed.
I was still convinced chemical warfare was the best plan of attack, and at the suggestion of one of my co-workers, I returned with two gallons of bleach. I dispensed the first gallon into three smaller holes nearby in an effort to thwart any secondary means of escape. I emptied the second gallon directly down the front door of the nest as my wife stood by with the garden hose at the ready. Just as the bleach jug was almost empty, an errant scout latched on to her index finger and began stinging with a vengeance.
We made a hasty retreat to the kitchen, and despite her flailing her hands wildly, the tenacious bug held fast until we reached the sink where he flew up to the ceiling light. Thoughts stormed through my head as I calculated the best way to eliminate this intruder, since there was no way he was being left to his own devices. I considered torching him at close range with the candle lighter but there was a chance he could fly away too fast. (Scorching the kitchen light wasn’t going to be good either)
I thought about the kitchen sink spray hose, but there was no guarantee that would take him down. Maybe the spray bottle of 409 cleaner? Possibly, but still not potent enough for my taste. I stepped away for a moment to check on my wife, and as she was spreading salve on her finger in the bathroom, I spied my weapon of choice; a gleaming red can of Aqua Net Super Hold hair spray.
One intense shot of this sticky goo at close range and he was instantly grounded, left to wiggle madly in the bottom of the sink. A nearby kitchen utensil delivered his death blow like Thors’ hammer as I plotted the demise of his colony.
As of this writing, the final tactic remains unknown, but a beekeeper suit is on order and should be in my possession in a matter of days. Once equipped with my dedicated armor so-to-speak, I will forge into my front lawn with impunity. The image of a white-clad, mesh-faced grim reaper will be the last many of his kind will ever see. I will come with hoses, bottles and shovels if need be, and woe be unto any of his like that will venture onto my turf in the future.
I may hate cutting grass, but I do reserve the right to do so with sting-free underwear.