Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If our rustic vernacular literary tradition in this country were centered around Western Pennsylvania rather than the Deep South, then everyone would know that the enemy of all 5 to 10-year-old boys is not the "briar patch" but the "jagger bush". I know jagger bush was a local colloquialism, but I didn't realize that even the power of Google would not allow me to show you exactly what one is. There are two problems. One is that searching "'jagger bush'" yields no images, while searching "jagger bush" yields only pictures of the president and/or one or more Rolling Stones. Two is that the definition linked to above does not quite do the phrase justice. A jagger bush is not merely any thorny bush like a rosebush or something; a jagger bush describes a very specific weed whose job is to hide in grass, be very pointy, and injure the unsuspecting. They generally lie flat on the ground, with their prickly branches, or petals, or whatever they are, and generally wreak havoc with sandlot sports and other yard-based games. They are, I think I can fairly say, the embodiment of pure evil.

I only deign to give the lowly jagger bush an entire paragraph's worth of your time to convey this: today, the lawnmower and I did battle with the largest jagger bush I've ever seen by an order of magnitude. Instead of lying flat, this thing had a stalk--it would only be a moderate exaggeration to say, a trunk--a good (bad!) 18 inches tall. I probably only imagined hearing the monstrous thing plead for mercy; I showed none. The lawn is now entirely mown, for the first time in some amount of time about which it can only make me sad or angry to speculate. I only fell on the slippy hill part twice, and only one of those times did the lawnmower come tumbling down sort of toward my face. But the mower has a good safety that shuts off when you let go, plus the rolling hill topography creates weird angles that allowed myself and the mower to fall in different directions.

With all the yard work out of the way, I don't know what I'm going to do with myself over the next 10 days; if you take that as a subtle hint to check this space frequently, so be it...

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