American Humor: The Invader and The Young Garden Warrior

The Last Laugh column shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor. A young garden warrior takes on the task of safeguarding the family flower bed from an unknown invader.

| June/July 1997

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    The few bulbs that remained seemed to cry out for revenge, and I was instantly determined to give it to them.

  • 162-100-01

Last Laugh shares MOTHER EARTH NEWS reader submitted American humor with other readers. A young garden warrior fights against an unknown garden invader who is destroying his beloved flowers. 

My mother reports that shortly after I learned that crawling was an effective way of getting from mess "a" to mess "b," I developed a fascination with scrambling into her flower bed. With six sisters and a brother to distract her attention, it was a cinch for me to catch two or three unobserved minutes to make a meal of a few roses or tulips. Before the appetizer was even over, though, I would take the express elevator to her shoulder and soon return to a more traditional baloney lunch. Her garden was a wilderness of color and wildlife, and her roses were the size of my head. Who could stay away?

Still taped to the fridge after 30 years is a brown and curling photo of me as a young garden warrior staring at a bed of sunflowers with a measure of concentration that a brain surgeon would find it difficult to muster. Considering my pretty weird diet at the time, I can only imagine that it was the same kind of concentration that a leopard has before pouncing on an unsuspecting antelope. As I grew, the gardening lessons graduated from simple munching to digging, then planting and watering, then fertilizing and by the time I hit 10, my father declared, while walking to his car one morning, that I was an "old hand." Being called an "old" anything at that age was only slightly more flattering than winning the Pulitzer Prize, so the garden became a place of victory as well as fascination. Then one day, the sweet taste of success turned to ashes in my mouth; somebody besides myself developed a taste for the garden.

It wasn't a measured attack, not a surgical strike at a few isolated and defenseless roses on the perimeter. No, I strode out to the garden for an afternoon watering and discovered the aftermath of Bull Run. A course and broken path of destruction ran straight through the center of the flower bed and continued on until the vegetable patch began. Being only passingly interested in veggies at the time, this was a dagger meant for my heart alone.

"Strictly a flower eater," my mother mused as she surveyed the smoldering ruin. "Interesting."

Interesting? "Holocaust" would have been more like it. It was already tough enough taking flack from my friends for growing flowers in the first place, without my little secrets being carpet-bombed while my back was turned.

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