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.
The strange thing is, 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. I actually 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.” What an 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 watering it faithfully, and spading around it a little to give the roots room to breathe.
One morning I opened my front door, glanced in the flower bed, and was shocked to see the bushy Kochia plant gone. I’d become a victim of a terrorist attack. My husband, the terrorist, had apparently pulled the weed as he walked by it. He, like old Dave, was ready to fight any kind of Russian invasion.