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July 3, 2005

Stupid Is as Stupid..

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

Weed whack the dune? You want to weed whack the dune? I thought my neighbor was kidding when he told me. But he was very serious. There must be something about an unkempt un-mown area of nature that drives some people to irrational thoughts and behaviors.

The dune in front of my parents' townhouse, which is a common building shared by five other units, was created by the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the ocean from washing through the property and wiping out the seaside structures. Before its erection, my family had to shovel out the townhouse on three separate occasions where the ocean had flooded through. Those of us who have had to clean up after a flood know what I am talking about. For those of you who haven't, I hope you never have the experience.

The establishment of a sand dune complete with vegetation takes a very long time. Ours had been in place for about 15 years and is now in full glory. Grasses reach skyward, secondary growth has started and the area has stabilized where migration backward over the front porch has ceased. Rabbits nibble, red winged black birds flutter and in the fall, Monarch butterflies stop for sip from the golden rod while on their very long journey to winter grounds in Mexico. Snow on the dune, although very rare, give most poets inspiration for dozens of sonnets.

I tried to be patient with my Montgomery County neighbor who arrives maybe twice a year to check on his rental property. Yes, the dune would look much better cut and landscaped he informed me.

Realizing he was not making this up, I tried a fourth grade botany lesson. You see, Larry, the sun hits the blades of the dune grass; the leaves make food; the food travels the roots; the roots grow down and outward and hold the dune and that stops the ocean from washing through the building.

Case closed, I thought.

No, he still wanted to weed whack the dune.

I realized I was getting absolutely no where with him and was a bit frightened when I noticed a gas powered weed eating machine in the back of his van.

I decided to talk to my other neighbor who is a lawyer from Baltimore. I was hoping he would communicate some sense into him. The problem was that the lawyer agreed with my neighbor and he also thought the dune should be landscaped. I then went through the same botany lesson with him, but to no avail. I knew I had a real problem with two of them aimed on destroying the dune.

I decided to enlist support from the city. Not knowing whom to contact, I drove to the public works complex and explained my problem to the gate guard.

"They want to do what"? was the reaction.

"Who in their right mind," asked the Worcester County denizen.

I told him it was lawyer and a person from Montgomery County and he nodded his head knowingly and directed me to the head of the department.

I met with his secretary who registered the same sense of disbelief; but when I told her it was a resident from Montgomery County and lawyer she said "now I understand."

The head of public works told me how illegal it was, the dune was the property of the federal government and he would send men out to keep an eye out if some foolishness began. He also asked me to voice my concerns to the town manager.

He gave me a letter where a resident had altered the dune and the fine was $3,000, not including the cost to replace the grass which was another $2,800.

I asked what to do if the guy started up his machine and he told me to immediately call the police. He gave me copies of the law, of letters to the one other offender which I passed on to the lawyer and the Montgomery County resident. He also told me he would ask the chief of police to have an officer look at the dune occasionally to let everyone know they were watching.

The dune is safe for now, but my opinion of people from Montgomery County and lawyers have reached an all time low.

And, with the lawyer, I didn't think it could get any lower. They continue to surprise me.




Thanks for reading The Tentacle.




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