Idaho Weeds 2 (Personal Essay)
Despite our current president’s abiding affection for Russia, Dave, an old farmer I once knew, said Russia was our biggest threat: “They seeded the jet stream with weeds. That’s how they plan to take America down. Russian thistle and kochia weed.”
“But what about their nukes?” I asked him. An hour later I was still listening to Dave’s ideas on Armageddon, the Apocalypse, and the Sign of the Beast (which according to him, was possibly our social security numbers.)
I think old Dave had a point. Not about Russia or Armageddon, but that weeds could be weaponized. Once we saw a man stop at a gas station in an SUV covered with fine green Kochia pollen. He must have done some off-road Baha-ing. As soon as he emerged from the driver’s side, he bent over coughing and sneezing, barely able to hold the gas nozzle in the gas tank. I thought he might have an easier time dusted with bear spray.
Oddly, kochia weed is actually a Russian (Eurasian) import. A hundred years ago there was no kochia in Idaho. Now the roads and highways are lined with it. Once, I found an old seed packet of kochia from the 1930’s, in an antique store. I was amazed. Why would anyone want to plant the stuff? Later Wikipedia told me kochia was an “escaped ornamental.” Looking at the bushy patches around our farm I thought this was a huge understatement.
I have to admit though, when I first came to Idaho I knew nothing of the 67 plant species classified as noxious weeds, so I mistakenly cultivated a kochia weed in my flower bed. I remember faithfully watering it and spading around it a little to give the roots room to breathe. It was so full and healthy looking. This plant was well, growing like a weed.
One morning I opened my front door, glanced in the flower bed, and was shocked to see my beautiful plant–gone. I’d become a victim of a terrorist attack. My husband, the terrorist, had apparently pulled my plant from the flower bed as he walked by it. He told me it was a weed, a kochia weed, and he like old Dave would not tolerate this Russian invasion.