Tears and Weed Busters!

Today we filled up another truck load of herbicide and took the jugs out to the great marsh. We strapped on our backpack sprayers and the five of us continued to march up and down the twenty acre plot, making sure that even the littlest of Cattail would not be able to reach maturity. When I am spraying, people passing by often ask me questions as to what I am doing and why. Maybe it’s because they are concerned, or maybe they are just curious. I think it’s because we look like the ghost busters. The retro look is coming back and fashion is always looking for something with a little more za!

Anyways, on my way back to the truck to refill my pack I noticed an old car driving down the road, a tan Buick Regal. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when they spotted us but as I walked out towards the road I could see an elderly woman and her husband through the front window. As they approached the car started to slow down so I too slowed my pace in order to meet the car and see what was the matter, but the car never stopped. Instead they stayed at a steady roll, the little old lady rolled down her window, said “Thank you” and continued on down the road. For the few seconds that we made eye contact I could see her eyes water up. I couldn’t help the smile that followed on my face after our interaction.

From doing the work that I am doing I have come to understand the constant struggle for living space among plants and animals, and can appreciate the effort that has gone into restoring the land here in the Indiana Dunes. The Narrow Leaf Cattail (Typha angustifolia ) for example is invasive to the Indiana Dunes . It has interbred with the native species (Typha latifolia) creating a hybrid that is monstrous in that it is very well adapted to the conditions here and forces other plant species out.

Last weekend I took the train to Chicago with friends and crew mates. On the train ride, which runs along the southern border of Lake Michigan I noticed areas that were completely walled up with cattail, thick patches, like the pencils shoved into a coffee mug; impossible to push through. In this kind of environment there is little room for other types of life to survive. What we do to control these invasive species is a necessary step in the battle to suppress unwanted weeds and allow opportunity for other plants in the area to flourish.