Unless your names are Donna and Matt, or Dora and Leroy, I am pretty sure that you and I aren’t next door neighbors in Pasadena, MD. I am also pretty sure that, although you may not know it, you are very glad that we aren’t neighbors. Oh, we’re no problem, my little family unit and I. We are quiet. Well, as quiet as a two kid and two dog family can be anyway. We are tidy. (See previous caveat) We don’t take up too many parking spaces on the street and we are helpful when the snow flies or the power is out. All in all, we are pretty OK.
The problem with us as neighbors can be summed up in one word: Grass.
Calm down, we aren’t doing anything illegal when it comes to grass. This isn’t HBO. The problem is that I don’t do anything grass-related at all. Lawn care is not my forte. My wife plants flower beds and hanging baskets and, despite my rouge-neck roots, the cars in our yard start most of the time. Our place looks tidy and homey, it is the lawn that gets me in trouble.
The trouble with lawn care and I is that I just don’t care about it. When it gets tough to see my 7-year-old, I’ll give it a whack with the mower and that’s about it. My neighbors seed and fertilize, and water and cover, and nurture and pray, and then they seed some more. They stand around in the evening and talk about grass across their backyard fences.
There is even a guy up the street that has some sort of underground irrigation thing going on for his lawn. In the middle of the drought last summer, when the rest of the known world was saltine cracker dry, there was a puddle of water in front of his driveway every morning where his lawn had drained into the street overnight. There were dire warnings of water shortages everywhere and this seed-head is pumping untold gallons into his fescue. Me, I wouldn’t know a fescue from a plate of bacon and eggs but I can tell you which one I’d rather have with coffee. (I really am hopeless. I just had to look up “fescue” to make sure it was grass of some sort.)
I have friends that do not allow their kids to play on the lawn. I’m sorry, but that is weird beyond comprehension to me. As I mentioned, there are two kids and two dogs doing what kids and dogs do on my “lawn” on a daily basis. There are more than a few bare spots where the dogs dig holes and the kids drag their feet on the swing set.
I am sure there is a big yellow spot under the tent the kids pitched last month. They were going to camp out “all night long”—they lasted until just past dusk, but the tent still remains. Any shade of green on my “lawn” occurs completely by accident. Apparently it consists of, what I am told by my more lawn-obsessed pals, completely undesirable plants.
I have clover and chain grass and dandelions and things that look like little wild strawberries and a whole lot of things that I can’t name but look just fine to me when trimmed. Entire families of rabbits stop by early in the morning and evening for a snack. They have been coming by undisturbed for so long that they are completely secure in the knowledge that we mean them no harm. They don’t even look up when I head out to work each morning, they just munch on.
I like my rabbits. I love my kids. OK, so I barely tolerate my dogs some days, but I like them both a heck of a lot more than any fine-trimmed lawn I’m not supposed to step on. So, should Donna and Matt or Dora and Leroy ever decide to move away and you wind up living next to the Weaver homestead, I’ll be glad to help you shovel your walks in the winter and wield a pretty mean chainsaw if you have something that needs chainsawing. But lawn care…well, let’s just say that if the zoning codes didn’t prevent it I’d not only have excellent, cheap lawn care but a nice round of goat cheese curing in the shed out back.
Ray Weaver is a father of three. He is a writer and musician and lives with his wife and two youngest children in Pasadena.