If everything had a color instead of a word, japanese beetles would be puce green and black and my garden would resemble a flaming red bull's eye. If the colors were replaced by scent, the beetles would reek of rotten fish and my garden would smell like fresh laundry, chocolate chip cookies, and Thanksgiving dinner. I would smell their evilness or see their hideous shells before the damage was done.
Instead they sneak quietly into my garden, their irredescent shells cloaked by morning shadows and sleep filled eyes. They devour roses and crawl deep into my rose of sharon blooms, ravaging the flowers with neat, circular bites. They hang from the leaves like jewels in an Ethiope's ear, heavy and full enough to make Shakespeare proud. They sway with the breeze but do not slip, their hunger sated only when their handiwork is done and the leaves resemble lace, the stems supporting a network of open space punctuated by rigid veins. Shock and anger shake the sleep from my eyes and I run for my bucket of bleach water, furiously grabbing the hideous things and flicking them into its depths.
Again and again this scene has played out in my garden, the beetles emerge as the victor, my garden the hapless victim, and I, the flailing fool, complete with hat and gaudy garden shoes.
I stand in the pesticide row at the local garden store, contemplating my choices. So much death, so little time, and I feel my stomach lurch, my lunch headed due north. I grab a big blue bottle of a systemic insecticide and walk away. Thinking of the damage waiting for me at home, I rationalize my choice, pay, and drive away. I mix, pour, apply. The soil reeks of poison and I avoid the garden, guilty and ashamed. The beetles die, the leaves grow back, but the garden is quiet. The birds avoid the rose of sharon and the butterflies are absent, the milkweed and parsley empty. I have created an oasis but poisoned the water.
If being completely organic had a color it would be the blue of a can of milky spore and the chalky white of its powder. The puce green and black of the beetles would be splashed with the racing stripes of a butterfly caterpillar. If words were replaced by emotions instead of evoking them, "garden" would feel like pure joy and new life. Long gone is the systemic insecticide poured at the base of my roses and rose of sharon. The role of the fool has been rewritten and my garden bursts with life. Bravo!! Bravo!!!