Allegan County News & Union Enterprise Commercial Record Courier-Leader & Flashes

Life as Performance Art

By G.C. Stoppel
Since I started writing murder mysteries, I have developed a new appreciation for flower and vegetable gardening.
There are so many wonderful and deadly chemicals on the garage shelf or garden shed — herbicides, insecticides, cleaning products and more. Plus sharp tools hanging on their hooks — trimmers, edgers, electric cords, scythes, loppers, even garden hoses.
After looking at them plus a few of mindless hours getting fresh air and exercise, I have come up with many ways to rub out, bump off, liquidate or otherwise get rid of someone.
When all else fails, thoughts turn to Glenn Close in Agatha Christie’s “Crooked House” exterminating moles with both barrels of a 10-gauge shotgun. Even better, the closing scene “Caddyshack” where Bill Murray blows up the golf course trying to get rid of one gopher.
You don’t get those ideas looking at an urban gray stone mansion or apartment complex. They need a suburban or rural setting so an unhappy partner or spouse can contemplate making their significant into other into an insignificant late other. Or where frustrated adult children can lay out plans to collect their inheritance a few decades early.
Fun really starts outside on the lawn or garden. Look around and you’ll see all sorts of poisonous plants — rhubarb leaves, flowering hemlock, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac … This time of year we add deadly, dangerous, diarrhea-causing daffodils. The pretty yellow flower which kept English poet William Wordsworth rapt for decades when he wasn’t writing about clouds, larks ascending, and other such things.
Daffs we love because they bloom just after the crocus and before the tulip, is a dangerous work of flora. Even if it is miserably cool or there is a late light snow, they resiliently accessorize our gardens and flower beds.
They are usually at their peak at this time of the year around Easter, whether the holy day comes early or late. Their timing is always perfect, and it’s a good thing too, because the yellow daf is the symbol of resurrection, new birth, hope and life itself. Little wonder the American Cancer Society embraced it as their flower. Like many cancer patients, they are hardy and persistent.
Alas, a few years ago someone visiting England for the first time saw daffodils and decided to have a snack. He or she got a nasty tummy ache, went to a hospital and a report was dispatched from there to city hall. The hospital’s grand high medico discovered there were daffodils in the hospital’s flower bed, instantly summoned Gus, the head of maintenance, and ordered his staff to “Exterminate! Exterminate!”
Daffs may be hardy but were no match for an electric string trimmer in the hands of Gus from Maintenance, when he was having a bad day. He knew better than the chief mucky muck cutting daffs was a dumb idea.
Still an order is an order and the offending flowers were gone in no time, left to wither and rot away where they fell. Problem solved. Over a thousand stems shredded.
The safety-first fanatics were not done just yet. A couple town parks were temporarily closed so a hazmat crew could locate and record each daffodil. A few days later children were allowed back in the park, but only if accompanied by at least one responsible adult.
Kids and adults alike had to sign a waiver that they were aware that these dangerous plants were in the gardens and promise they would not sue the town if they gobbled down a snack.
Keep this up and before long someone in this country will find something politically incorrect or insufficiently woke about daffodils. Before you know it, they will come for daffs to cancel them.
The only way they will get the ones from my garden is pry the stems out of my cold dead fingers. Meanwhile, I am laying away a supply of bulbs because when the government outlaws daffodils, only outlaws will have daffodils.
Often when something unexpected or even slightly dangerous happens, we over-react. A classic example in the upper Midwest is when weather forecasters report that two snowflakes have been found in close proximity in the same county, so prepare for this year’s blizzard of the century. Immediately people head to the grocery store to stock up.
A clerk told me there are two types of these survivalists. The first head to the shelves with bread, then to the cooler for milk. The second head to the beer, wine and spirits section, then the frozen pizza department.
During the first wave of Covid thought to be strictly a respiratory problem a few years ago, shelves emptied of bathroom rolls instantly. Panic buying on the same order of killing daffodils.
Michigan still has a law forbidding women from having their hair cut without her husband’s or father’s approval. My guess is some long-ago legislator, outraged when his significant other bobbed her hair, sat down, scribbled out draft legislation and somehow it got signed into a law that’s still on the books.
I have better sense than to tell either Pat or her stylist I have consented to her hair getting trimmed. It might entice one or both of them to to look over gardening supplies in my garage.

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