Saturday, March 13, 2010


I have seen the enemy, and oh how clever he is. He has infiltrated every corner, taken every possible inch. Each member of his hardened unit is fortified and well armed. Each has a number of weapons in its possession, and is additionally surrounded by a nearly inpenetrable force field. The enemy combatants are commonly known as space bugs, monkey balls, bommyknockers, bir balls, cukoo-birs, sticky balls, or gumballs. Each is a hard, dry, globose, compound fruit about 4 cm in size. Each capsule is surround by about 100 piercing spikes or barbs. Each barb is razor sharp and grabs onto everything within its reach. You can take down a hundred of the enemy, but these numbers are, ultimately, insignificant. They are insideous and devilishly clever in how they hide and ambush you. There is nothing cute and innocent about them, regardless of what others may call them. My hands and forearms bear their scars. It will be a long and bloody conflict to be sure. If I don't make it, tell my daughter I love her.

The above piece was written after another afternoon spent removing the gumballs from my gardens and landscaped yard areas. Initially there were more than 15,000 of these fruits of the American Sweetgum tree encamped in my yard. There are many, many more to be removed before my yard will be ready for spring time. Perhaps my description is a bit melodramatic for your tastes, but my fingers are lined with cuts and gouges, and I have dozens of little splinters all over my hands and arms. Ah, me.