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Saturday, July 5, 2008

JAPAN LITE

Truly, it's a jungle out there!


While the rest of the brave world is out fighting terrorism, on my island we are fighting a different kind of evil: age, sickness, and most recently, weeds.

It seems we are always being summoned at 7 a.m. to help fight off something. Last week we fought off cholera by praying to the Myoken-sama shrine in a special ancient Shinto ceremony.

This week we were summoned to fight weeds. Neighbors came armed with weapons: scythes, trowels, shovels, even motorized weed cutters. I was on the frontline with orders to mow down anything in my path. And people wonder why I want the U.S. to get out of Iraq. Isn't there enough fighting going on in daily lives?

To tell you the truth, I find weed power kind of creepy. You should not underestimate the destructive power of weeds. Weeds grow quickly and aggressively to camouflage their victims. They are territorial and will take over if not repressed.

There are some neglected houses on the island that are entirely covered in vines and weeds because the weeds have been allowed to encroach unabated. And you can't just cut them back. A weed never really leaves, unless you dig out the entire plant.

Truly, it's a jungle out there! Even as you read this article right now, all plants in the entire plant kingdom are trying to kill each other off. Weeds are taking part in aggressive takeovers and vines are strangling innocent victims. No wonder al-Qaida trains in the forest, among such ruthless plants: the roots of terrorism. But we'll really be in trouble if the terrorists learn how to harness weed power.

Recently, some men armed with pesticide tanks on their backs came to my house to tell me they were going up into the mountain behind my house to spray for matsukui, or pine bark beetles. Aha! Matsukui training camps!

The men further suggested I stay out of the forest for five days after they sprayed. Perhaps this is to give the matsukui time to form their plans for attack. I mean, how do I know they are really spraying pine bark beetles and not just smuggling dangerous chemicals into the forest?

With all the things we can't do and insects can, it would make sense for terrorists to outfit insects with M18s. And the way insects swarm and work in groups, this would be great technology.

It's enough to make you paranoid.

Which is why a flower garden is such a bastion of peace. A flower garden is a place we have prepared, cleaned up, and made a safe zone. There are barriers to keep out the foreign plants and soils. You, ruler of the garden, have forced out those you consider to be the bad guys and you've granted certain flowers amnesty with ample space to grow in. The beautiful race prevails.

Then you further separate the plants by color. You may even separate them by religion: The lotus plants go near the Buddha statue. Other plants get preferential treatment: the bonsai get display benches, the botan tree peonies get their own little umbrellas to protect them from too much sun. You do your best to keep the immigrant weeds out because if you give 'em an inch, they'll take the whole yard.

Then there are always a few undercover weeds that act like flowers. They do everything to blend in and look desirable so no one will suspect them of being weeds. They engage in tactics such as growing faster at night while no one is looking.

Then one day you look out into your garden and see a long, spindly weed working its way around the necks of the tulips, going for the jugular. You rush out and yank that weed out of your garden because it doesn't belong there.

It's enough to make you ponder: Is it any wonder humans can't get along with each other?



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