Dandelion wars


On the last Sunday of April the sun was warm and I bent over countless white dandelion heads in the front yard, popping them off before the wind blew them across the street, into an immaculately groomed front yard.

I think she must hate us, sometimes, the woman across the street. Like every sunny weekend, she was washing her lawn furniture and moving between shrubs and there’s not a dandelion or violet or clover to be seen in her lawn.

Each spring I think I’ll go after those dandelions, because while I don’t mind them when they’re small yellow flowers, those white heads stand six inches off the grass and make the yard looked neglected. But so far I haven’t got close to winning. Snapping the heads off was a temporary fix, an aim at maintaining peace on our quiet street.

She’s never complained to me. But the man next door, he wandered over after about 30 minutes, cigarette as always in his hand.

“What are you doing?” he wanted to know, and “Did she bitch at ya’?”

I told him no, I was preempting any complaints. But apparently she complains to him, or did before we moved in a year and a half ago; and he’s tired of it.

She threatened to call the animal control people if his daughter’s cat showed up in her yard, he said, so let those dandelions blow across the street.

Conversations always wander with him and he offered more Rose of Sharon shoots from under his kitchen window and said he hasn’t even thought about his tomatoes yet, health issues and all, and said if I want to buy weed killer he has a spreader I can use, but as he sees it let the dandelions be.

I guess he had a change of heart because 30 minutes later he was back to make a deal: if I pick him up some weed killer when I pick some up for me, he’ll do both our yards.

Across the street she was still fussing over her lawn furniture and her niece was irritated; their voices rising.

“We’re going to be sitting out here a lot and I don’t want to be looking at dirt,” she’s saying, only they don’t sit out there much, unless they’re washing something.

I sat at my own dusty table, screened by a shrub that needs another haircut, watching bees fly between the branches. Maybe if we eradicate the dandelions she’ll be able to sit still, watch the summer pass, leave her niece in peace. Maybe she obsessively cleans because she can’t stand our dandelions.

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