Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lawn Wars: The Green Team Wins!

I was out using our new push mower for the first time, and I took an awfully long time to get the job done. The process was just too enjoyable to hurry along.

In preparation for the inevitable execution of suburban duties, I had read and reread an article on lawns in the Guide for Real Florida Gardeners, so I was well versed in the lawn tradition and its origin with 18th-Century aristocracy in Europe. I know that it's better to let naturally-occurring plants take over, and to leave clippings where they fall.

The brand name of our mower is notable considering my own heritage.

My parents owned a house in the same county as Levittown, NY, the first modern tract-house development. Theirs was a corner lot, and so quintessesnially suburban that the Scotts company tested new fertilizers on their grass. Ours was the greenest natural carpet around. I used to lie on its perfect emerald buzz cut and watch clouds go by for hours during summer vacations. It's out of this ground, the dissatisfying illusion of suburban utopia, that my own aspirations now grow.

You've seen sitcoms and movies about neighbors competing to have the best lawn? I remember that there are quite a few, but none come to mind right now. Listen, I'll have to get a lot more hits before I can monetize and afford the time to research such things. For now, rely on your memory or Google the subject. Find your own references. And tell your friends to visit my blog.

The point is, there's pressure. Your lawn and your status are linked.

So I was pushing the thing around when the neighbors pulled up. The guy, whose name I forget (this is America, lack of community and all), said. "I used to have one of those!" Translation: We're ahead of you. I said, "Yeah, we're doing it the green way. Fertilize as you go and all." Touché. You guys ore so-o-o 1950s, or even worse, 2000s. "That's cool," he said. Poo. My male ego is very much intact. Love your neighbor and all, I know, but on a crude level, I'm still feeling good. I'm not exactly the omega wolf, anyhow. C'mon, I'm an animal, just like you.

Just last weekend, he was using a gas-powered leaf blower instead of a rake. For hours he drowned out beautiful bird songs with that irritating whine. It spoiled our backyard repose a bit.

Of course, perfect lawns, golf courses, and the like, are environmental nightmares. Yes, I did mow, but I did it in a somewhat better way, and the only carbons I produced came from my own exhalations. Others produce more in air-conditioned gyms, and they don't really work with the environment in any way. Against it, actually, and the jobs that pay for gym memberships can aid and abet environmentally-destructive activities.

You can win by not bowing to the lawn god. That's very now. You'll win, and so will Mother Earth. I know it's a petty victory, but there's something bigger behind it. My effort is small, but still, I'm making an effort. I'll do better in the future. To say you can never do enough is an excuse for inaction, plain and simple.

Oh yeah, and I spared some patches of clover, just in case. Please help me now. See any four-leafed ones? I know they're in there somewhere.

They're always in there somewhere. You just have to stop to look. You always have to stop to look. With patience, you'll make your own luck.

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