My environmental day of reckoning occurred in the mid-1970s when I opened a packet of corn seeds and saw pink. At that time I was living in a townhouse with my then husband and we had rented a garden plot just north of Toronto. As I write in part two of my memoir You Can Go Home – Reconstruct
Pink powder wafts out into the air and covers my fingers. What is this? Corn is yellow. I don’t remember any of Mom’s vegetable seeds containing this pink dust. Some research in reading gardening books and asking questions at the nearest garden centre confirm the seeds have been treated with a fungicide to protect them from damp-off and root rot. I’m afraid of getting poisoned from touching the seeds and have decided I will wear gloves to plant the corn. That same year when we visit my godmother on her farm, her youngest son comes in from planting the corn with his blond hair and fair skin pink, not from the sun, but from the fungicide.
I am forever turned organic and will wage war on pesticides.(Copyright 2010 Sharon A. Crawford)
Since then my vegetable, herb and flower gardens, and even the lawns (with one exception when cinch bugs attacked the backyard lawn in Aurora, Ontario), I have stayed away from fungicides, pesticides and the like. Before the last few years when everyone got on the no pesticide bandwagon, I had several confrontations with next-door neighbours over…dandelions growing in my lawn in Aurora.
The first neighbour over to my left banged on my front door and offered to pay for Mr. Weed Remover to sprayer my lawn. As this was soon after my husband and I separated, perhaps Mr. Neighbour felt I couldn’t afford this service. I soon set him straight. Afterwards I was worried and angry so I needed to talk about it to someone who had some authority over “Gerry” – his Anglican priest. All he did was try to soothe with platitudes like “Gerry was just trying to be helpful.”
Neighbour No. 2 on the other side banged on my front door and offered to cut my lawn. I was insulted but at that time was a very busy mother of a grade 23 teenage boy and between running around to his school extra activities and my freelance writing career, cutting the lawn had low priority. I told Mr. Neighbour No. 2 that I would get to it later in the week when I had time.
But when Neighbour No. 1 moved, Nemesis moved in. A couple, originally from South Carolina and their two boys (both born in Toronto) and their environmental-friendly ways moved in. Soon two front lawns sprouted dandelions. I suspect the previous owner (still in Aurora) had conniptions whenever he drove by and saw his old lawn. The neighbour on the other side now minded his own business.
Fast forward to when I moved back to Toronto in 1998. I continued (and still to do this day) removing dandelions by hand using a weeder and don’t get much, if any, flack except for complaints about goldenrod growing in a few places and now for my rosebushes sticking out. I trim the latter and tell the goldenrod haters that it is considered a native plant. And you don’t kill native plants these days.
Sometimes “yellow” can be good.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes