Wednesday, May 5, 2010

May 5: Mutants

I have this weird memory from when I was four years old. While playing in the driveway one day, I came across a really big ant sitting on a log. I remember well the rush of fear and panic at seeing such a thing--it must have been three inches long--although it didn't pay any attention to me. I remember running into the house, not wanting to play in the driveway again, and going out later with some trepidation, hoping it had gone away. But of course, there are no giant ants, even in the strange state of Missouri where we were living at the time. So odds are good this was a dream. Still, that giant ant has stalked my memory for almost 40 years.

Something about oversized things freaks us out. Horror movies take good advantage of that fact, giving us giant spiders, giant snakes, giant carnivorous rabbits ("Night of the Lepus," anyone?), giant killer tomatoes... They don't fit into the natural order of things. (Funny how mutating radiation always makes things in movies bigger or more powerful.)

Which is why tonight I was so horrified by a mutant dandelion plant that I couldn't even bring myself to touch it. Granted, I don't like dandelions anyway. Besides playing a role in my spring hay fever, they mar my lawn. And when you pick one, the stem oozes a milky fluid. Things that ooze milky fluids are creepy too. So I'm already predisposed against dandelions. And then I saw this one. It looked like four or five flower stems had melded together to form one giant stem at least an inch across, a strange succulent-looking stem that was not normal. The unopened flower heads themselves were connected like conjoined siblings. When I first saw the plant, I did a double take and blinked a few times. And noticed there were actually two giant mutated stems in the clump. If there'd been more light, I'd have taken a photo.

The plant borders the sidewalk, so I can't help but wonder if someone disturbed the plant in such a way as to cause it to mutate like that. Or if it just bloomed into a dandelion monster all on its own. It was truly freakish. I left it alone.

Evening calm disturbed
by mutant dandelion.
Not a dream this time.

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