Monday, August 3, 2009

Things we do on grass - the rise of the lawn mower people.

It has been quiet here in my neighborhood for the past few weeks. No rain, hot, dry... the lawns turning a crunchy brown. In the shade or behind the shears in the picture windows you can see the lurkers. Waiting. Sometimes you see them in the depths of the garage, sparks flying as they sharpen blades. The smell of oil and exhaust wafting out as engines are tuned and decks are cleaned. They wait, equipment gleaming and ready, for the first glimmer of green to emerge from the dry, brown waste they called a lawn.

After 5 weeks of now rain, we have had showers every day for the past week. The grass has exploded. The lawn mower people have resurfaced in their gleaming, howling glory. No weed shall survive in the neighborhood! No blade of grass shall grow beyond 3/4 of an inch! Everything shall be orderly, clipped, trimmed, perfect.

Until you get to my yard. There you will discover a rampant, chaotic, wildness of unmown grass, weeds, and overgrown gardens. The lawn mower people glare and shake their fists as they drive by. Some of the closer ones creep over the boundary and mow or spray when I'm not looking. They can't stand it.

They are my neighbors, so I talk with them. They chat about their new mower, which can cut a 6 foot wide swath in one pass, and cost more than my truck. They ask me if I need any spray because they have the latest loaded in their mega sprayer, and it will take care of all the weeds. They ask how I keep things dry, the long grass doesn't let the ground dry out in the bottom land around here. But mostly they ask me when I'm going to mow, why I don't mow more, and why we have so many animals.

When we bought this place 5 years ago it was all mowed. We had five acres of manicured grass with a few old buildings. No trees. No flowers. No weeds. Just grass cut to one inch, and trimmed around all the buildings, posts, and everything else.

We decided when we moved here that 4 of those acres would be pasture and gardens. The gardens are being developed, some are orderly and some weedy. That will improve. The pasture is not mowed. The livestock keep it productive. Depending on where you look in the remaining 3.5 acres the grass could be as short as 2 inches or as tall as 14". "Weeds
Weeds are pretty common in some spots. The goats love them. My unmown grass, the pasture that feeds my livestock 10 months of the year is worth about $3000.00 a year to me in feed I don't have to buy. It isn't "beautifully manicured" but I think it is quite lovely. As a bonus I have lots of red-winged black birds, gold finches, indigo buntings, frogs, toads, snakes, crawdads, dragonflies, and other critters who happily live in my world.

The grass near the house is mowed less often than the neighbors would like but more than I want too. It is slowly being turned into gardens, forests, and other interesting places. Someday we will only need a small push mower to trim the tiny bits of grass between the garden rooms. The livestock will keep the pasture well trimmed, and everything will be lovely. Until then we will be vigilant in protecting our land from the spray wand wielding, mower driving lawn mutants that have taken over our countryside.


hickchick said...

We live in the suburbs and are surrounded by these people. One neighbor has PALLETS of lawn chemicals in his garage. A pefect deep green he fertilizes, waters and mows -what a waste. Perhaps all these lawn mower people are really repressed farmers?? This is there only outlet- a crop which benefits no one. When my daughter was about 5 she picked a big bunch of dandelions and placed them the the neighbors front door step, she later told Mrs. that she felt bad because they had no pretty yellow or purple flowers in their yard!

qhartman said...

Yeah, I ahve some serious "mower people" on my street in town. I get a lot of sideways glances for my yard garden from them, but most of the people who walk by while I'm out there think it's great. Personally, I've long believed that "lawn culture" is a method of social control. Imagine what all the lawn people could do with all that time and those resources that they spend keeping their lawn "just so" if it spent on something else? The mind boggles. It reminds of something I overheard while visiting Williamsburg last year. The tour guide was talking about how the pub there was the real seat of the revolution. That's where all the planning happened. He then mentioned "That's why modern bars all have TVs in them, to keep people from talking to each other and getting ideas...".


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