What I Learned From Grandpa’s Weeder


I suppose in hindsight, the warning signs were always there. At an early age I registered horror at the realization that people were eating Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. I once told my mother that if I got married, I wanted it to be barefoot and outdoors with flowers in my hair. As a teenager, there was a short period of time where I wrote letters to oil companies at the behest of PETA, imploring them to change their ways because they were endangering migratory birds.

Fast-forward to today and you have a 35 year old vegetarian with a worm bin in her basement. I should clarify. I know just enough about most of my passions to be dangerous. There must have been a point in my development that I took the “go boldly where no one has gone before” concept a little too much to heart, because often times I learn the basics and jump in with both feet, deciding I will figure out the rest as I go.

My husband became more prominently aware of this a few years back when I marched into the backyard with a shovel and started digging a hole for the patio I had decided we needed. I knew the general area of the yard, the approximate size it should be and had bought some supplies. When it came to start placing the pavers, he asked, “You did measure, right?” HAHA, yeah. What? That does not compute.

This tends to be the way that I learn best, and what I may have convinced myself is an endearing trait of my personality: being a woman of action. Sometimes the outcome works, sometimes it works well enough, and yes, there are times it doesn’t work at all. It is fairly common for tears to be involved along with moments of extreme panic where I pace and wonder what in the hell I’ve just done. But through it all, I remain committed to this process that has nearly lost me a few fingers and toes but usually gets things done.

That brings us to this summer. Since we moved into our house 4 years ago, I have been waging a war with our lawn. Not only does the hippy in me refuse to water grass, but I will put no chemicals on my yard. Each summer that has passed, the lawn has grown worse and worse. It wasn’t until last year that things really started going south and the comment of a passing stranger, “I just knew there had to be a new person living here because the lawn USED to look FANTASTIC” nearly made me go ballistic. At that time, I had purchased myself a new tool, cleverly named “Grandpa’s Weeder.” Ah, the anticipation with which I waited to start fighting those weeds. Grandpa’s Weeder promised to be “the most effective, effortless weed puller since 1913” and “would remove weeds and their roots with no bending, no pulling and no kneeling.” It had a lifetime guarantee and I had a lifetime, those weeds were toast. I put on my sunhat and stepped into the front yard, Grandpa’s Weeder shining in the morning sun.

This is the point in my story that I should point out that we have a modest little home in south Minneapolis with an average city yard. I jumped into my task with my characteristic confidence, Grandpa’s Weeder was a force to be reckoned with. I was pulling those weeds systematically with most of their roots but there was some definite bending going on. As the minutes ticked by, I started to realize that Grandpa must not have had as many weeds as I did – but I also took the “eye of the tiger” concept too much too heart in my formative years, so I pushed forward. Those weeds were going down, I would show everyone how awesome my yard could look with a little elbow grease and nature’s natural resources. Eight hours into the weed pulling, I still had a large portion of my yard left and was on my third biodegradable lawn bag. My hands had taken on the forms of claws and I was tipped from the waist at a 45 degree angle. Everywhere I looked I saw more and more dandelions. This was the point that I started to cry and tried to give Grandpa the finger but my hands were frozen claws. Effortless, my ass. I would need another tactic to outsmart these suckers. It was at that moment that the weed (ahem) was planted in my mind. I just had too much grass….

To be continued….

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Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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