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Friday, Mar. 29, 2002
With temperatures in the 70's and a hint of rain tomorrow it was time for the annual Outfoxed "Launch the Lawn" party.

I get visual clues as to the precise timing of this stellar event every year about this time. When the alfalfa and chickweed reach elbow height. When I know that there is the possibility of a bicycle being found in the midst of it all, as yet invisible to the naked eye.

It begins with a trip to the local hardware store. Note that, for reasons unknown, I never venture into the big box stores for grass seed and fertilizer. I can't quite figure out why, it's a mental block. Maybe I just like to get all first name chummy with the half dozen brands of seed and chemical that hold the promise, for yet another go 'round, of shimmering green grass and trouble free maintenance that all the powers of the landscape industry bring to bear at this time of year. Bags of seed, bags of fertilizer, improbably and prominently coded with things like 10-10-10 and 24-3-12 to indicate their prowess at subduing my fetid and yellowing lawn.

Inevitably, I need a rake. Every year. Rakes tend to disappear from my shed at a rate normally reserved for pencils from my desk. This year being no exception, I hunted for that one perfect implement which would gather all the undignified rubble from the ground, scratch perfect furrows to receive the new seed and accomplish all of this in less time that it takes to consume a Coors Lite.

Which is a very short time indeed. Did I mention it's 70 degrees outside?

Finding a candidate in the farm tools section, an industrial looking and prohibitively expensive (hence, should do the work all by itself) rake with an air horn, custom pin striping and moulded rubber grips. Positively rakish, you could say. Breezing into the "Death to Weeds" department, I never broke stride in snatching up a gallon of Round-Up. It should be noted that I use a lot of Round-Up. Supposed to kill weeds. Well, it does, for a while. A few days after my vigorous applications the weeds keel over and lie prostrate while I cackle gleefully and jerk them up with a flourish. Naturally enough, after a month, they're back fourfold. And I go back to the store.

Securing seed and fertilizer on the run, I pay for the whole affair and return to the suburban lot that is soon to be raked, plowed, mowed, sprayed and seeded. All before the rains come. This is important, because dragging sprinklers and hoses hither and yon across my patch of sand cuts severely into more important matters, more productive and stimulating exercises.

Fishing pops immediately to mind. Napping, for that matter.

Having accomplished Stage One, the procurement, in record time, it is reasonable to expect a little break. Yes. A bit of Internet. A little snacking. Dallying on the phone for a while. The newspaper. As a matter of fact, I accomplish all of this while Stage Two is already in progress. How does one do this you ask?

It's simple. So simple that, done year round, and were it not for Child Labor Laws, my lawn might well be the envy of the Southeast. For you see, not coincidentally, it happens to be Spring Break and there are assorted extra hands laying about the house. Idle and purposeless hands. It is, in my view, a shame to waste such talent as this on the review of endless MTV video's and conferencing repeatedly on that ringing instrument with the dozen buttons which hangs on my kitchen wall.

No bugler ever summoned the troops more sprightly. With a thrilling cry and a flick of the conductor's wrist, the brigade marched smartly through their paces.

Okay okay, so they plodded through it with the enthusiasm of a half-dead mole. I can take a little poetic license, can't I?

After 50 feet of raking, the Eldest pleaded exhaustion (this from a 17 year old who can play 4 games of softball in 100 degree heat).

"Hmmm. Okay fine, I forgot chlorine for the pool anyway. How about driving up to the store and getting me some?"

Happy to escape, she sped off on her mission while the other two hooted and howled about equal rights and fair play and work discrimination and other implausibles here at Stalag Outfoxed. Generally, as was the case today, the mere mention of a work stoppage equating to a food stoppage was sufficient to bring them back to their happy, gospel tune singing selves, while massah fanned himself on the veranda (or in this case, the open garage).

Eldest was quick to return, bearing packages of the chlorine more commonly known as 'shock'. Which of course, refers to the price as much as the intended effects. I inspected the products carefully and rose from my chair.

"Dad, I can do that! You just sit here and make sure the lawn gets done!" This was the sweetly toned voice of the Eldest, but it could very well have been any of the three.

"No, I think I better handle this myself this year. Pool's about as green as the lawn is. Maybe more so."

The Eldest skipped toward the front door, and I let her get within arms reach of the handle before coughing for attention. She slumped, knowing full well her lot in life on a Friday. Out of school. And with sunny skies.

"Where do ya think you're going?" Heh heh.

"But Daaaaaaadd……."

In short order the dwarves were once again three, and they whistled and sang merry songs and made happy the neighbors with their picks and shovels and beard pulling antics.

While I made three laps around the pool dumping in multiple chlorine packs and tossing the empties aside willy nilly.

Have to get the Boy to pick 'em up later. I've got a hot date with a baitcaster and some new line.

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