Some people while away the dark weekends of winter dreaming about tanned bodies and ocean beaches. I've done my share of that, but lately I've been fantasizing about the tools of summer. Like a Weedwacker.

I want one. I don't care whether it is called Weedwacker, Weed Eater, Weed Slasher, Weed Popper or Weed Digger. It has to be big and gas-powered. Its mission has to be weed snuffing. Its weapon has to be a whirling cord.

I know I shouldn't own a whacker. I live in a row house, with a tiny backyard that the kids have transformed into vegetation-free tarmac.

I have few weeds to whack. Certainly not enough to justify the $100 or so I would have to fork over to enjoy the pleasures of mechanized slashing.

But that only makes me want the whacker more.

I long for other financially forbidden devices as well. The thought of owning my own quivering Rototiller stirs my soul. There is, I think, a primal urge in all of us to till acres of soil, especially if those of us were born in Dodge City.

Like most red-blooded Americans, I yearn for a heavy-duty hedge trimmer and have the normal deep-seated need to drive a riding mower, with snowblower conversion kit.

But mostly I have this recurring Weedwacker fantasy. It goes like this.

It is a sweltering summer day in the city. Anyone who walks the sizzling streets can see things have gotten out of hand. Grass is growing where it shouldn't. In cracks in the sidewalk, and in the tree boxes, the patches of earth that sit underneath street trees.

Moreover, this grass is not the well-groomed kind you see in fertilizer commercials. This is tall, unruly, urban grass. Grass with an attitude. Grass that has gone to weed.

The weeds sprawl on the pavement daring anyone to take them on. They laugh at the hand-sickle attacks. They know that in the humidity, the sickle swinger will tire long before much damage is done. And even if, in a rare case, a hyped-up sickle swinger knocks down a gang of weeds, they will be back in their unruly ways while the sickle-swinger is still recuperating.

On one especially overgrown corner, a mother and her small son bTC wait for a bus. They arenervous. The weeds scare them. Who knows what critters dwell in a tree box gone wild. Besides, weeds are the first sign of urban blight. They attract a bad crowd. And they (shudder) decrease property values.

Then, from out of nowhere, or maybe from out of the alley, I appear, toting my whacker. I have been roaming the pavement, on the lookout for troublesome growth, when I spot these weeds. I wear a hat to protect me from the sun and a mask to protect my eyes from flying debris. I am a man of few words, but have good manners. I tip my hat to the lady and say, "You might want to move your young'n'. There is gonna be a little commotion."

Once the mother and boy are clear, I fire up the whacker. Its engine gives a throaty roar. The weeds tremble.

There is noise, flying dirt clods, and an occasional tangle with a soda bottle. Weeds that once swaggered high in the wind are, in a few strokes, reduced to stubble.

When the dust settles, and whacker rests, a calm descends on the street corner.

A bird chirps, or maybe it is a car alarm. But order is restored, and the once-threatening tree box now looks as harmless as a golf course.

I tip my hat to the lady, again, and move on, hunting more outlaw vegetation.

The boy turns to his mother. "Mama," he asks, his voice filled with wonder, "who was that masked man?"

"Why, son," the woman answers, her voice filled with admiration, "That was the Weed Ranger."

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