Never Say Never

“The average lawn is an interesting beast: people plant it, then douse it with artificial fertilizers and dangerous pesticides to make it grow and to keep it uniform – all so that they can hack and mow what they encouraged to grow. And woe to the small yellow flower that rears its head!”

― Michael Braungart

The only large swaths of well-watered, manicured lawn that I like are found at golf courses.

My distaste for lawns probably started when, as an eleven year-old boy, it became “my” job to mow the yard. 

And then my dislike was exasperated when the ‘rents colluded with several neighbors for me to cut theirs weekly, also, for what I thought was for a ridiculously paltry sum. The only thing I got out of that after three years of labor was the money I earned that allowed me to buy my own airfare to England to visit my uncle for the summer I turned fourteen. It was my first summer not having to mow any yard, and the following summer I took myself out of the lawn business – except for our own, of course – by taking a job as a lifeguard for that and the next three summers. Then it was off to college and I swore I’d never cut another lawn.

Never say never.

In time I married, out of an apartment and into home ownership. And, yep, wouldn’t you know the house we bought had the second largest sized lot in the neighborhood. For the first ten years or so mowing the lawn was my job, naturally, but I got a brief respite when my two boys got old enough to take over, for an allowance, of course. (I remember once suggesting to each that they could make extra money by soliciting mowing jobs in the neighborhood. The look I received from both at that idea proved to me that I hadn’t raised stupid kids.) But that only lasted an all too few years before they left home (curiously, fifteen years later, both are still apartment dwellers) and it’s been my job again for the last fifteen years.

I’ve given serious thought about ripping out all the lawn (the fact that here in California were entering our fifth year of drought is a definite inducement, what with the cost of water going up and up) and putting in sand with a smattering of rocks, and a few plants that don’t require hardly any water or care.

But then I remember the horde of feral and outdoor domestic cats around here that would render my property one large litter box.

Maybe I’ll just to keep the grass.

I’m wondering, maybe for a negotiated sum, if I could entice the grandsons to do it?

Nah, I couldn’t do that to them. I didn’t like it, my sons didn’t like it. I’m sure they wouldn’t either.

There are better things on a Saturday morning for a boy to do. Anything other is infinitely better. Even nothing at all.

And I don’t want them, long (hopefully) from now after I’m gone, to say to one another, “Remember how we use to have to go and cut his grass every week? God, I hated that!”

And I’d completely understand.

– Bill


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