Thoughts of World Domination While Gardening

Nevada is a dry and seemingly barren land. As spring arrives, green sprouts poke their head above the soil, but anyone who has lived here knows that summer will bring dryness that turns the soil into concrete from which no plant can be removed and in which no hole can be dug; also, every one of those green shoots, no matter how pretty, will eventually turn into a tumbleweed. Plus, there are ants. Once I tried to drown the ants, which gave rise to more tumbleweeds, thorny sprouts with stalks as big around as my wrist and ten feet tall, reaching for the top of the fence and sprawling out into the easement.

The only way to defeat the hardy plants that have evolved to enjoy this climate is constant warfare. Anything green must be reaped the moment it appears, before it fastens itself into its emplacement. I have fought these plants. The first year at this house the front stones were so overgrown with brown stalks that the neighbor gave me a propane tank and a long nozzle with a burner at the end. I felt like the troops on Iwo Jima, racing across the landscape, burning everything in my path. I even set the juniper on fire.

Gardening gives me a lot of time to think, while my hands go through the mindless formation of blisters. When faced with successful organisms like ants and tumbleweeds, the mind of the interloper turns to thoughts of annihilation. It would be so nice to raze forever these colonies that irritate me. No matter how good they are at regrowth, I am man, the powerful, the chosen one. I have a goal. How can these lesser beings still befuddle me?

Then I realize that Hitler and Stalin must have felt the same way. Pol Pot and Ghengis Kahn also wanted to expand their kingdoms and revolutionize society. The temptation to control our environment, to destroy anything that doesn’t fit with our vision comes from frustration at the endless growth and regeneration of what we consider to be our lesser cousins. I just can’t stamp out the ants or the tumbleweeds. Instead there must be a constant evolution. I struggle to hold my yard back from the masses, and we reach an uneasy truce that may not exactly fit my vision, but allows me to live in harmony with my surroundings.


Real Men Water With Hoses

Our neighborhood has enjoyed population growth lately. A lot of houses that were empty are now full. There are children passing back and forth on the sidewalk. These seem to be a lot of younger families. I notice more gatherings of guys with beers around the ends of driveways. The curbs and yards are lined with cars. There seem to be an endless stream of garage sales on the weekends. Collected crap travels from one house to another in a neverending circle around the blocks until it ends up at the dump.

To our left is a giant RV and a desert tortoise. I think I can guess which one will spend more time on this earth. To our right is the family trying to do it the right way, Grandma, Mom and Dad and daughter. He works hard and keeps up the house. I know that it is not always easy, but they always smile.

Across the street is a Harley Davidson. They are popular here. The roads are fun to ride on, and the national historic district of Virginia City is right up the hill, with bars that cater to the bikers.

In this world it is easy to go to the garage, and get in the car, and press the garage door opener, and drive off to work, maybe rolling a window down to get some fresh air. Work all day, come home, pull in the garage, put the garage door down, go inside, work on the computer, watch some television. If there is yardwork to be done it can be done by automatic waterers. Lawns can be cut by a crew with a flatbed trailer.

I like to go out and stand in the middle of the yard with the hose going full blast, the way men used to. Glaring around at the neighborhood, looking for cars driving too fast down the road. When teenagers go by I wave at them or say hello. Kitty corner is the neighbor who does the same thing. He takes it to another level, with a lawn chair and a beer while he waters with the hose balanced on his knee. Maybe someday we’ll share a beer and more than a hello. I don’t know, but I do know what he’s doing. If you’re not out front, you’re not paying attention to what’s going on, and there is a lot going on, even if it’s only sunflowers getting ready to grow up over the fence.