We had a pretty good weekend. Lots of preparation for my son's birthday. Plenty of attention lavished on Mothers on their day. The weather was pleasant. I asked my wife how she felt in the afterglow. After a polite flurry of adjectives like "happy, relaxed, accomplished," that described her experience, she landed on "helpless." One of these things was definitely not like the others.
"This weekend, we went over four hundred parts per million," she sighed.
I didn't need to ask what that meant. I knew she was talking about the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The greenhouse effect. Melting ice pack. Homeless polar bears. And I was the clown pushing the power mower around our yard on Saturday. If I had confessed to my part of the problem, I would have had to confess that I had already tried the solution and it wasn't up to the task of getting all those foxtails out of our lawn. I sacrificed pounds of pollutants to be free of the little seeds that find their way into our dog's ears and nose and eventually breed even more. I tried to assuage my guilt by telling myself that I put off the inevitable use of choking gas-propelled machinery as long as I possibly could. But I knew the truth. I could have used the push mower and raked up the debris. I could have pulled them all out by hand. I could have let them grow. What about the dog?
Helpless. Without opposable thumbs, she can only sniff and scratch at the burs that get stuck in those tender spots. I could have set aside some time every day for an inspection. I could have kept her away from the tormenting plants until they were done with their cycle. I could have made a difference.
Instead, I mowed them all down and bagged them up. I mastered my environment and shrugged my shoulders at the thought of all my alternatives. Then I thought about how much our dog looks like a polar bear.