I’m tempted to pull a Jonathan Swift* and champion a world where perfect lawns flow emerald green and uniformly clipped, from coast to coast, sea to sea. Where trees die by the millions, poisoned by IMPRELIS, a touted “green” herbicide created by (“your world made better through chemistry”) DuPont, but LAWNS? Lawns like carpets under the sky, lawns like English manor grounds glowing with wealth, lawns maintained by silent unseen chemicals–the final triumph of American perfection.
It doesn’t matter that 60-year-old trees stand stark and leafless above these lawns. It doesn’t matter that the ground beneath them is so poisoned that it must be removed to ever grow trees again. It hardly crosses the minds above those springing steps and swinging arms who hit their little white balls “far and wee.”
Dangerous to human health? Never you mind. Do not recall the countless homeowners with a yen for lawn glory who sicken from cancer and die. Such as sweet Erma and her third husband Jack–he in diapers–who poured a lethal dose of Roundup all around their rambler, in the name of “Let’s get at those weeds.”
Never you mind the run-off into lakes and streams, into mighty rivers and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Never you mind the dead fish, turtles, newts, frogs, crustaceans, birds, dolphins–a world made better through chemistry!
A world made perfectly “green” but dead.
Ladies and Gents, there is no such thing as a perfect herbicide. Pause for a brief Latin lesson: “cide” as in fratricide, homicide and yes herbicide means death. And though it is perfectly possible to stick it to one human or a slew of brothers, and still not imperil the entire species, killing “broad-leafed” plants in large-scale applications ultimately endangers all kinds of other living things, from trees to the very soil where they grow, and yes, to the lungs of those who’ve spread it, walk on it, pick up those little white ball with their fingers, bring it into their homes on their shoes.This is poison and should be labeled as such: SKULL AND CROSSBONES.
Do you want your children running and playing, kneeling and rolling in lawns with such lethal doses waiting beneath their smiling green?
I feel sorry for all the individual homeowners, countless lawn care companies, even managers of parks (Three Rivers Parks in Medina, Minnesota) who’ve been suckered into using this “green” herbicide – DuPont’s Imprelis. Bemused by the name, I’ve played around with it. Notice: it contains the letters for IMPERIL. I am a bit surprised that DuPont dared warn us.
Many many Americans hold a rampant belief in the power of the perfect lawn. It is the “cleanliness is next to godliness” of suburban perfection. Look at us, we’ve shaken the soot of the city off our feet! We live on God’s green acre. We are free of ache and loneliness, need and fear. We control every weed.
I, for one, abandoned my lawn when I first set eyes on it–my postage-stamp-sized city lawn. BORING. I immediately started planting trees. At last count, I’ve mothered four blue spruce, one Norway pine, one crabapple, one honey locust, two silver maple, one Russian olive. I let my lawn “revert” to creeping charlie, a relative of mint, which smells great after it’s cut. Growing with it are two kinds of clover–white and yellow, and where there’s no mowing, native plants that were waiting to sprout grace us with their fluffy purple flowers: Virginia waterleaf, along with violets. A HERBICIDE has never crossed my doorstep. And my trees (well mulched, fertilized when they were small) keep the house cool. As far as I can tell, no one has ever expired from “lawn sickness.” My soil is healthy. My heart is pure. Robins love the worms.
* Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” 1729, suggested that Britain should make stew of Irish babies, as the swift’s route to eliminating the native population..