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Lawn Lamentations

I never wanted a lawn. It’s too much work from the get-go, lawnmowers leave a carbon footprint into which you could drive numerous Humvies, and I have a psychotic aversion to noise. The out of doors is to be enjoyed, with a minimum of sound and no mechanical maintenance required. When I was a child, our lawnmower was powered by pushing, and elicited a purr that could barely be heard by the next-door neighbors even if they were sitting on our porch. As an adult I first resided in apartments, and was confronted by lawn maintenance only after marrying people who seemed born to mow; so I mostly was able to avoid the task, if not the noise. In our last neighborhood, lawnmowers ran daily from early May through October and, according to distance from our house, varied in noise simulation from an airplane landing in our yard, to a 5-pound mosquito. So, in planning our escape to the country, I insisted early on that the new place be seeded with prairie plants and wild flowers or left to hay. Our “lawn” would consist of a small swatch of grass around a narrow perimeter of the house. “Just enough for the grandchildren to play on,” I begged. “Uh-huh,” Lawn Man responded, and soon commenced to hauling, raking, tilling, dragging and generally obsessing over the masses of newly excavated dirt in preparation for grass seed he bought in quantities that significantly stimulated the local economy. Now, a few years later, prairie plants and wildflowers are thriving in the back yard in ridiculously small clumps at the edge of ridiculously large expanses of new grass. We could host Olympic soccer matches back there, or at least some major volleyball events, if I could stand the noise. The side yard would accommodate group camping, with plenty of parking in front. The other bad news: we had to buy a riding mower/tractor. The good news: this also boosted the local economy, and it allows us more time to enjoy the out of doors. To make up for the lack of exercise we can always backpack across the lawn. As luck would have it, Mower Man has been working (that’s good!) 10-hour days, so guess who’s been doing lawn maintenance every week. But the roar of the engine drowns out my moaning, the hysteria subsides a short time after the last backfire, and the growing season will be over in a few months. I never wanted grass.

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