The closest I come to being a serial killer is attempting to raise a bunch of potted plants on my back porch. I confess, I am not good at growing things except whiskers. Especially lacking are my skills for growing grass. NO, not that kind. The kind that covers the ground around my house. That is why I live in a community that has a homeowners’ association. They take care of the grass. I take care of my house. It’ a good deal.
My friend, Ron, however, doesn’t have such a deal. His homeowners’ association consists of one associate–him. So Ron has to deal with things like lawn mowers, edgers, fertilizers and weed killers. It’s enough to make a man…well, it makes him suburban. Explain what that means, willyuh Ron…
I AM NOT MY LAWN
By Ron Carmean, Contributing Editor
A few years ago, my wife and I moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia. Houses were attractive, neighbors appeared friendly and the developers had left a significant amount of trees and grass. Usually, in such a setting, the trees were removed, then the area is named Whispering Willows or Maple Grove –without a tree in sight.
As time passed, I noticed the properties around us had lawns that could double for a PGA putting green. Men put in more time with their lawns than with their children. Chemicals from large trucks covered every inch of lawn with “growth producing substances.” (We kept our dog away, just in case.)
Mowing grass was practically an Olympic event. At least once a week, men saddled up their riding mowers and the race was on. Who would finish first? Of course, neatness counted, too. Some men clipped the edges of their lawn, while on their knees, with tools looking suspiciously like scissors. One go-around was not enough. These people were serious. At least a second cutting was necessary.
Then the borders were addressed. Flowers, bushes, miniature Christmas trees were tended to next. Mother Nature was no match for these groundskeepers. Suburban men meant to improve on God’s handiwork.
When done, they rode over their handiwork a third time to collect clippings. Most bagged them as the law required. But one lone wolf turned up his nose at such regulations and poured his excess grass down a sewer.
In comparison, our grass looked at us with a sad, half-green, half-brown stare. A lawn expert told us why. Our property was “down hill from the surrounding homes.” When rain hit their grounds, it flowed to us. We had puddles the size of kiddie pools. Top soil was eroded with every rain fall. In some places, the most shallow tree roots were exposed. Not a pleasant site, and as daylight disappeared, tripping and spraining or breaking an angle was a constant concern. I thought of posting a sign: “No strolling after dark.” But why point out the obvious. Beneath what remaining grass we had was clay—apparently it doesn’t absorb water quickly or efficiently.
Undeterred, we seeded our grounds and cut it regularly—not too much, not too little. The end result of our labors: another half-green, half-brown stare…but cut to the ideal height.
Six months into our occupation, my wife and I, at the supermarket, overheard women talking about properties in our vicinity. One said: “You can tell so much about people just from the condition of their lawn. If the outside isn’t well-kept, you know the inside is just as bad.” I thought: “Wait a minute. I’m a nice guy. I treat people fairly. I keep our home in good condition. But I can’t get blood from a stone, or grow green grass under our conditions. Besides, I am not my lawn. Can’t you see that?” But these women had come to a different conclusion. Plus, they lived up stream from us. I bit my tongue. I still have the teeth marks.
I wonder if Ron remembers that New Christy Minstrels ditty…
It’s green they say,
On the far side of the hill.
I’m going away to where
The grass is greener still.
Books by Marc Kuhn: DEAD LETTER…Young love, misguided jealousy, a world war and a long lost letter whose shocking mystery is opened 40 years later; THE POPE’S STONE, an historical novel that follows two descendants of a Virginia family who, despite living a century apart, share uncanny similarities in their lives; NEVER GOOSE A MOOSE, a collection of whimsical verse featuring thought-provoking “never-do’s” that children should beware of; and ABOUT A FARM, a children’s book about challenges we all face every day, regardless of where we live. All four books are available at amazon.com and each has its own .com website under its title (exception: http://www.deadletterbook.com).
Intimate details about Marc Kuhn and other exhilarating stuff at http://www.marckuhn.com
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