We celebrated Earth Day here at the Fortress of Solitude yesterday. Yes, I know that "officially" Earth Day is this Friday, the 22nd, but - I'm sorry - we work for a living. So this weekend was our celebration.
The festivities began when I woke up and was wandering about the backyard with my coffee and noticed that, somehow, it had transformed into the Kingdom of the Spiders and, this being southern Nevada, that means black widow spiders - big fucking black widow spiders. I'm "WTF? When did this happen?" but headed to the garage where we keep a collection of spider toxins. I didn't deem the situation serious enough resort to my bottle of Demon X, a pesticide purchased at a Shanghai street market - where they are freaking serious about killing "pests," environmental impact be damned - and undoubtedly is considered a WMD by many UN commissions. I commenced to dispatch spiders in my backyard and then moved into the front yard, where the spider population proved to be booming, too. I returned to the backyard to find the porch covered with cockroaches, unhappy with the fact that I had poisoned them. Cockroaches are ubiquitous here in the desert...never seen them in the house, however. I think the scorpions scare them off.
During my spider slaughtering adventures, I noticed that weeds were getting a little out of control, too. Here's the thing: This is the middle of the Mohave Desert, one of the most hostile botanical environments in the world; no rain to speak of and the "soil" is a powdered mixture of limestone and gypsum- dig a hole here and you have a lime pit - and yet, I have weeds. I have to respect the tough little fuckers, but we have an HOA that gets all tense about "unsightly weeds." They have to die. So...Round-Up time. Yippee-kai-yay, motherfuckers. Oh...and happy Earth Day, Mother Gaia.
But, the festivities were just getting started. By the time, I had finished my environmental atrocities and was surveying the sea of dead spiders and roaches and rapidly wilting weeds - in my mind, the weeds were screaming, "Oh, you wretched little man, we're melting, melting...." - the redhead was up and asking what the plan was for the day. I replied that I was wanting to install the new filter on our water line and needed to take a trip to Lowes. I asked if she wanted to come along and she said, "Oh, yeah. I've got a 10% off coupon. Let's go." I sensed that my plan for the day was beginning to unravel since the redhead in a store with a coupon is pretty much like Charlie Sheen at a porn star convention. But, off we went...
Since I recognized we would need a "cargo vehicle" for this trip, we took Big Red, the prerequisite large pick-up truck that any real resident of Nevada must possess - again, happy Earth Day, Mother Gaia.
We get to Lowes and the redhead says, "Let's go by the nursery and and look at their rosebushes. We need one for the one spot over in the corner." An hour and a cart full of plants later, I say, "I guess I'm not going to be doing plumbing today." "Let's get what you need anyway. We have a 10% off coupon," the redhead replies. "We always have a 10% off coupon. Lowes bribes you to shop here. Besides, I've forgotten what I need," I reply and we leave.
The rest of the afternoon is spent gardening. Now, per my comment above, gardening in southern Nevada consists of digging a ginormous hole - not infrequently, a pick is required - filling said hole with compost, and then planting your new plant in the middle of the compost. Think of it as in-ground container gardening. No, I'm not making this up. Dirt - one hesitates to call it "soil" - is literally white here.
So, you're thinking, "Gardening seems pretty darn Earth-friendly, doesn't it?" Yeah, well, bite me. Remember that I spent the morning slaughtering the native plants that Mother Gaia, by raising the Sierra Nevada mountains 5 million years ago and putting the Great Basin in their rain shadow, decreed should be growing in my yard. What we were doing yesterday was an "unnatural" act of human arrogance; remaking our backyard into a human-friendly environment. In effect, laughing at the dictates of Mother Gaia, and through the liberal use of human-generated compost, fertilizer, and piped-in water, re-engineering the botanical nightmare she had created in southern Nevada. Happy Earth Day, Mother Gaia.
But, as usual, Mother Gaia had one last statement to make yesterday. We had just finished up and I was lounging in the newly-landscaped backyard with a cold beverage, when the Las Vegas Wash caught on fire. This actually happens all the time. The wash is populated by native plants that require a good brush fire as part of their reproductive cycle and they are pretty much programmed to go up in flames frequently. The first time I saw one of these fires, it was quite alarming; 50 foot flames, pushing a column of thick black smoke hundreds of feet in the air less than a mile from the Fortress of Solitude. However, ten years into our occupation of the Fortress of Solitude, a fire in the wash is little more than an entertaining late afternoon spectacle. So, there I was contentedly sipping my cold beverage, when the wind-blown ash from the fire arrived. All of a sudden, it was raining blackened chunks of immolated plants....and we're talking Pompeii Lite here. I'm sitting there, picking ashes out of my beer and watching my pool fill up with black crap, when it occurs to me, "I wonder how people in Miagyi will be celebrating Earth Day this year?"