M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, July 23, 2003  

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Used to be that yard work for us consisted of throwing the neighbor kids a twenty every other year so they’d rake the leaves for us. And that was only if we had that kind of time.

Two things have changed that. One is that we’re done getting our various university degrees, so the backyard is no longer just something we stare at through the window while we write papers, like it’s some sort of cautionary “this is your lawn on drugs” diorama. The other is our chiminea, which consumes yard waste faster than we can produce it. I’m serious; every once in a while I’ll look at the litter in our yard and decide to free up a few hours for a little fire, and ten minutes later our property is totally cleared of fallen sticks and twigs and leaves and slow-moving squirrels and there’s nothing left but smoldering ashes.

The end result is that in a couple of years we’ve gone from having a yard we have to avert our eyes from when we’re taking out the garbage, to one we actually enjoy hanging out in.

So last night I’m spending about ten minutes trying to adjust the soaker hose just so on the back yard so my most recent seedlings can get just the right amount of water per blade for precisely seventy-nine minutes. And I think back to the days when I tried to convince Trash that we should attempt a “prairie conversion,” my code for “screw it and whatever can grow back there is welcome to try.” The days when we considered applying for Superfund status. The days when we thought the yard was in pretty good shape if it wasn’t on fire.

On one of those days, I was dashing off to work or class or rock & roll practice or something, and our next-door neighbor to the north, a recent widower, pointed out how all of the leaves in our yard had blown over into our south neighbor’s yard. These were the same neighbors whose kids sometimes raked our leaves. We gave them that year off.

Our poor northern neighbor spent years looking out his window and seeing our unkempt yard and bushes, landscaping that needed escaping, and an uncoiled garden hose that sprawled outside our rarely-used side door for three winters in a row. He’d go out and keep his hedges trimmed with the geometric precision of those monoliths in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but he still lived next to the lawn-care equivalent of a couple of Oscar Madisons. He died the last year Trash was in grad school, probably because looking at our yard broke his heart. He never said anything to us about it, but this is Minnesota, after all.

This summer, I’ve seeded the yard, watered it religiously until it sprouted, watched it die, re-seeded again, and have been watering it religiously ever since. A lot of the grass has come back—again—and even though it’s not as lush as it was a month ago, it’s greener than it had been at any time during the previous half-decade.

Perhaps our departed neighbor is looking down at the startling transformation we’ve effected on our exterior space this summer. And I can’t help thinking one thing:

He must be pissed.

* * *

I’ve decided to add a new, semi-regular feature, just to keep things from getting too stale (not to mention short) around here. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but I’ve been putting it off because it’s not exactly original; I’m stealing the idea from any number of other journals, including Dancing Brave. I figure this is a good time, what with DB being in Europe and thus ripe for burgling. The new feature, which may appear once a month or once a day, will carry the poetically evocative title of “Today’s best Google search.” For the first installment, see the other side of this paragraph break.

Today’s best Google search: “cat difficulty peeing orange.” Unfortunately, I’m not able to help this person because my cat has difficulty peeing orange as well. It’s quite baffling, because he does just fine with all the other colors. But for some reason, orange stops him up so severely that I’ve stopped trying to make him produce it. It’s okay, really. I love him just as he is.

posted by M. Giant 4:52 PM 0 comments


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