Friday 30 Sep 2016

Question Resolved
David Simmonds

It’s time for my April moral dilemma again. 

The spark to provoke it is the annual uprising of those prolific yellow weed-thingies: dandelions. They are all over my lawn, and so I again pose myself the Shakespearian question: to weed or not to weed?

I’m all over these day-to-day moral dilemmas. In March, I was worried about what would happen if someone bought me a Tim Horton’s coffee and I rolled up the rim successfully. Would I be obliged to share my winnings with the person who went out of pocket? The up was a gift and all that flowed from it or was I just staked to a coffee and had an implied partner in or maybe even a sole claimant to the rich rewards from the rolled up rim. Fortunately, all I ever won was the exciting opportunity to play again, so that my worrying turned out to be for nothing. In January, I fretted about how long I should let snow sit on the ground before I bothered to pick up a shovel, knowing that the snow would melt eventually in any event - but this winter, eventually was such a short period I had little time to get worked up about it. 

Now I know that if you asked several of my neighbours, the response would fall on the ‘to weed’ side of the ledger, with an added ‘please’ and ‘quickly’. The pattern of emergence clearly shows dandelions beginning to spring up on the edges of their lawns just adjacent to my relatively bountiful crop. In fact, I may be putting them to extra work and effort just by sitting and stewing, and they may well end up cancelling their subscriptions to this paper if I do nothing. I am the worst offender in my neighbourhood; so civic duty says that I should weed. 

On the other hand, and believe me, I have looked hard for the other hand, there is something in the task of taking on a dandelion crop that reminds me of that fellow in Greek mythology who was always trying to roll a rock uphill. He never got to the top, in which case, you ask yourself, why start, in the first place or continue with it in the second. As with rocks, so it is with dandelions.

In the interest of laying a solid intellectual foundation for the ‘not to weed’ side, I note also that Kemptville, Ontario, hosts an annual Dandelion Festival, now in its 13th year. I also note that the festival receives financial support from the Government of Canada. According to an announcement made on March 5, 2012 by Gord Brown, the Member of Parliament for Leeds-Grenvillle, an “investment” made and the government is “delivering on its commitment to strengthen our economy.”

Now if Kemptville, and that’s Kemptville, not UnKemptville, can organize a festival to celebrate the dandelion, and the Harper Government, as it styles itself, can support it as investment, then who am I to stand in the way of economic progress? No, I will show my solidarity with the wonderful people of Leeds Grenville and celebrate my inner weed.

I will continue to mow their tops off as viciously as I always do, but I will make no special effort to remove them. Instead, I will celebrate either the fact that man cannot always control nature; or the fact that what we think of as a weed is in fact just another of nature’s inherently beautiful creations; or the fact that I have learned to live calmly with uncertainty and imperfection. I stress that this has nothing to do with the fact that the Stanley Cup playoffs are on television and the careful reader will note that I no reference to the argument that we could always make dandelion wine. 

Well, that’s one dilemma resolved in a rational and above-board manner. Now I have several months, with my mind and conscience clear, before fall-foliage comes and I must ask, to rake or not to rake.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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