Published 9:02 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Everything is fine in February. Clean ground, naked trees, barren land.

March is not bad. Then comes April. Like infantry massing on the border, so they start appearing. Small patches of green preparing for attack. A division here, a brigade there, snipers searching for position, all collaborating for the assault.

Then comes May and June. D-Day arrives, the exact date encrypted in silent code. Like spilled ink, they move toward least resistance. Their goal? Complete occupation.

We give them oddly simple names. Wiregrass, pigweed, lamb’s quarter, foxtail, crabgrass, tea weed, nut grass, as if describing an enemy will subdue it. It only fuels more descript profanity.

Defenses are built, erected and employed. Cultivators, herbicides, rotary hoes, rope wicks, crop rotation, mowers and cold steel, but to no avail. They only seem to infuriate the foes, who dig tunnels and burrow up from beneath.

Like paratroopers, they drop in from the sky. They form wedge formations and employ flanking movements. They have night-vision equipment.

While the farmer sleeps, they encroach. Out from the woods, reducing field size. Through the ditch banks, over fences, across paths, wherever there is dirt. They creep up through cracks in concrete, never stopping, never sleeping, unrelenting, suffocating, moving towards victory. They encircle the farm, seeking to meet in the middle, declare glorious victory and celebrate their new acquisition.

The farmer pushes back.

They push harder, seeming to sneer at his feeble efforts.

At last, at night, they catch their adversary in bed. The morning glories and honeysuckle, cheered by their comrades, climb the gutter and slip beneath the cracked window. Along the floor they travel, up the bedpost, beneath the covers. They encircle their victim’s throat, his callused hands offering no resistance.

I rode by that farm today. It’s all grown over, as if some green monster enveloped it. No fields to be seen. They say, deep inside, lies a corpse in an upstairs bedroom. I don’t know. I’m not going in there.

The vegetation seems to laugh at me as I ride by, as if to say, “You’re next.”

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is