As I Was Saying…

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A Patch of New Grass

June 6, 2008

It’s a simple thing, but I’m enjoying it a whole lot more than I expected. We reseeded part of our front lawn about a month ago, and the grass has actually come up. For experienced gardeners, this isn’t much. We, however, are people who can’t keep a house plant alive. This is no joke and no lie. We have managed to kill philodendrons.

new grassBut so far the grass is a success. My home office window overlooks the front lawn, and as spring inches closer to summer I am thrilled to watch the yard become greener and greener.

It is, however, a private pleasure because to so many people I know it seems either like not much of an accomplishment or like the wrong accomplishment. On one hand, our across-the-street neighbor has redone his entire lawn in a weekend-long process that involved a small bulldozer. By comparison, our little project is modest indeed. On the other hand are people who suddenly seem to think every square inch of arable land should be turned into a 2008-style Victory Garden.

This is owing to the skyrocketing cost of oil and gasoline. The dystopian view from which such gloom and hysteria proceed is that by next winter the first clear signs of the cold, dark and famine that the future holds will be apparent and unalterable, as utilities wink offline, grocery store shelves stand empty, and travel (read “escape”) becomes impossible (see “cost of oil” above).

I’ll admit to the possibility that I’m playing grasshopper in a real life-or-death unfolding of the story of The Ant and the Grasshopper. But I think that possibility is, as we say, vanishingly remote. I’ve been through this before. I am, after all, old enough to remember the Arab Oil Embargo.

Anyway, I loathe gardening. The old man made me help with his vegetable garden when I was a kid. He grew a lot of stuff I didn’t like (radishes, beets, something called Jerusalem artichokes) and working in the garden was always an invitation to get a sunburn while being eaten alive by insects. The bugs somehow mostly left the old man alone, but they always loved me.

The peas, green beans and sweet corn from that garden were delicious—but no better than stuff from the local farmers’ market, and really no less expensive if time and labor are held to have any value at all.

So, the long and short of it is that I won’t start gardening any time soon, but I really do like to look at that grass. And I’m not yet done patting myself on the back for getting it to grow.

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