Michael KreponChauncey Gardner Has a Sore Back

Verse of the week:

“Now ‘tis the spring, and
weeds are shallow rooted;
Suffer them now, and
Grow o’ergrown the garden
And choke the herbs for
Want of husbandry”
–Shakespeare, Henry VI

Long-time readers of these posts will be familiar with Chauncy Gardner, a fountain of horticultural knowledge with whom this writer periodically consults. I caught up with him, ankle deep in Restoration Creek, manicuring its banks.

MK: Chauncey, it’s good to see you again. Can I lend a hand?

CG: Where were you last spring when the rains turned this gentle creek into a torrent? Jumped its banks, tossed boulders I can’t begin to move, and scoured the creek bed. I know it’s a pittance compared to what’s on the news, and I intend to help, but it unnerved me. First time since I’ve lived here. I always assumed this creek was tame and these woods were my sanctuary. Take a look around you. See these dead trees? Mostly white oak.

MK: Remember Al Gore’s chart that jumps to a steep vertical on the right?

CG: I didn’t think it would happen this fast. I try to keep the world away from me, but the world keeps finding me. Lost some ferns to the flood. But most held on. They’re tenacious, like we humans. Only smarter. They’ve been around longer. Bring me that three-gallon bucket. We’ll need it for all these weeds I’m yanking.

MK: Weeds are plants, Chauncey. They have feelings.

CG: I do, too. Right now I’m feeling order out of chaos. You’re into nonproliferation, right? I keep telling you that these proliferators are a pox and a pestilence. Especially this one, Japanese stilt grass. Foreign invasives are the worst. This one probably came over on a ship and multiplies like, well… weeds. Compared to weeds, rabbits are card-carrying members of Planned Parenthood.

MK: Easy now, Chauncey. You keep repeating yourself. And some of America’s best imports came over on ships from abroad, including my mother.

CG: Don’t jump to conclusions. I appreciate immigration. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here, either. The most beautiful ferns along these banks are immigrants, mostly from Asia. Have you ever seen Mount Ebei? Magnificent. But I don’t welcome plants with criminal records, and Japanese stilt grass is number one on my enemies list.

MK: Whoa, Chauncey. Nixon and Kissinger had an enemies list. They taped phone conversations.

CG: I don’t tape ‘em. I pull them by the fist-full. Last summer I was laid up and they took advantage. This summer I’m clawing back territory they took over. Have a sore back from filling that three-gallon tub. If you don’t work the problem, you lose ground.

MK: I can relate. We’ve lost a lot of ground in my business. Ever since 9/11, when terrorism rose to the top of Washington’s enemy list.

CG: And how did that work out?

MK: Don’t ask.

CG: But isn’t this changing? I read somewhere that Russia and China have climbed up the charts.

MK: True, but nowadays, the loudest voices in the room seem to think that the best way to reduce nuclear dangers is to get rid of treaties.

CG: What planet do they come from?

MK: The planet of Hardline. It’s actually not a planet. It’s a moon of Mars or Pluto, I forget which.

CG: I take it these Hardliners know nothing about gardening.

MK: They’re not cultivators. Their favorite gardening tool is Roundup.

CG: Good luck on clawing back ground that’s been lost. I recommend Aleve and Arnica. But they aren’t much good when you’re in over your head.

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