But Mother Nature had one last unconquerable bastion. Between the peppers and the orange tree, there lay a section of grass that was older than even primordial swamp life. This grass sneered at the newcomers who had so recently emerged from the slime to walk bipedal upon the earth, presuming dominion.
I began my assault by soaking the earth, thinking to loosen the grip of the roots, fastened as they were to the very core of the Earth itself. There was no visible change to the grass as I held the hose steady on, but at the edges of the plot, the earth began to darken. Within a very few minutes, the water, dark as blood, began to run in rivulets down toward the peppers. Looking back, I fear to think what effect this might have on the nascent fruit.
Protected by nothing but fabric gloves festooned with deceptively cheerful images of fruit, I set to, laying hold of great handfuls of the grass and putting the entirety of my not-inconsiderable weight into my effort. The grass did not merely resist, but my straining muscles detected a force battling against my own efforts. The roots were mustering their forces to thwart me.
The first salvo resulted in my coming away with an armful of dying grass. Looking over my burden, I saw, poking from the black earth, the knobbled roots of the grass I had just liberated emerging from the softened loam like the fingers of my skeletal ancestors emerging from the depths. But not even the grim spectacle of all Hell's demons could daunt me from my task!
I reached my gloved hands under a particularly thick thatch with the intention of peeling back the vegetation to get directly at the roots. Pill-bugs scattered at the light and I, trembling underneath my broad straw gardening hat, reached right down into the depths of their lair, to better carry out my devastating assault.
My hand caught on a fragment of netting from the time my landlords in their tragic innocence laid down sod (sod!). I seized this ephemeral mesh of plastic and, sliding my hands underneath, succeeded in separating the grass from the bosom of the earth by prying up a thin layer of soil underneath its grasping, sucking roots. Imagine my horror, though, when I drew back my hands to better position them for a fresh assault and found them to be covered with bits of wet, pink animate meat. I had inadvertently plunged wrist-deep into some sort of slug breeding ground.
I fought the panic rising in my throat as I heaved the bundle of grass, roots and dirt (slugs and all) into the wheelbarrow. Come trash day, it would be the woodchipper for this lot. And I wouldn't be sorry.
My hair hung limp in my eyes beneath the wide brim of my hat, and were it not for the long-sleeved t-shirt I had thought to wear I would have been at the mercy of the sun's punishing gaze. As it was, perspiration poured into my eyes, blinding me as I bit my lip and forced my hands once again into the netherworld of soil. My hands did not meet the anticipated resistance, and I felt my gloves go cold and damp. In retaliation for my efforts, the roots of the grass, sensing their demise, had wrapped themselves around a sprinkler pipe, and my efforts to wrest loose their hold had shattered it.
I pulled back to find my gloves covered in pill-bugs of a never-before-seen brilliant peacock blue. Had they not been repulsive insects, they would have been splendid to behold. As it was, I did wonder at their beauty even as I hastily brushed them from my gloves. Worse, my gloves were covered with what at first glance would have appeared to be lines of ink drawn over the cheerful vegetables. But the lines of ink themselves moved and squirmed, inserting themselves into the weave of the fabric as though determined to bore into my very flesh. I tore the infested gloves from my hands and examined my pale skin for any sign of the inky demons. Luckily, I had acted in time.
There was nothing for it. The yard was rapidly flooding. I shut off the valve to the sprinklers and began to gather up my things. I had cleared easily a square meter of earth from it grip of the mighty grass, but this war is far from over, and it cannot yet be determined who won the first battle.