Watch out! The grass is coming soon
The grass is just sitting there, looking benign now with the residue of dead branches and junk left on it when the snow melted. It looks so innocent, but already I can tell it’s got something on its mind. It’s going to start growing.
Already there are splotches of dark green showing. A novice might think they were a good sign. A seasoned homeowner knows it’s the first indication of the dreaded onion grass. The dandelions will come next. Everyone will say how cute they are, but to anyone intimately connected with the lawn, they aren’t cute. They’re a weed that should be wiped out just as certainly as the common cold.
After the grass starts to grow, some bleeding hearts will say it looks hungry. They’ll say it ought to be fed. They’ll say you have to go to the garden center and spend a lot of money on grass food. There are tens of thousands of people starving in the world and we’re all getting ready to feed our lawns. I hate the very name “lawn.” “Lawn” is a weak and sneaky, namby-pamby word.
I’m not going to feed the lawn myself this year. I’m going to pay someone to come and feed it for me. It’s a wonder people don’t call the Red Cross.
These lawn experts come with big cans of chemicals and plastic tubes and give the lawn an intravenous shot in the roots. There are several places where the grass in our lawn always dies. I wouldn’t be surprised if these people come up with an idea for a root transplant or an artificial root for our grass.
Any sensible person with a home would pay grass not to grow if it would take the money, but instead, most of us encourage it to get longer. Then, just when it gets a nice height, we cut it off so it looks like a marine drill sergeant’s haircut.
This year, I’d like to pass the word among my neighbors that I’m one of those nutty nature persons who think it’s a crime against plantkind to cut grass. Or maybe I’ll tell them I’ve taken up a new religion that teaches it’s a sin to cut grass. I’ll kneel and pray in the high grass every morning. If my neighbors complain, I’ll take my case to the highest court in the land, claiming that if they make me cut my grass, they’re infringing on my religious freedom. If God had meant grass to be an inch tall, He would have had it grow to that height and stop.
I don’t know how we got so caught up with grass and what our lawns look like. Grass is nice, but it isn’t that nice and it’s a lot more trouble than sidewalks, trees or bushes. If everyone in America decided not to take care of his grass for one year – not to feed it, not to cut it, not to rake and pamper it – we could start to pay off the national debt with the money we’d save.
The only place that grass grows easily around our house is in the driveway, where we don’t want it, and in between the cracks in the patio. There’s something perverse about grass. It wants to grow where no one wants it and it hates being where we plant it. If there’s a flower garden near the lawn, grass loves to grow there.
Grass is a lot smarter than it looks, too. For instance, it knows when you go away for a vacation in the summer. It hates having you go away, too, and shows it. To get back at you for leaving, your grass lets everyone know the house is empty. You could put a neon sign on your front lawn saying : “Nobody home for two weeks” and it wouldn’t be any more obvious that you were away than just the way the grass looks. Even if you get one of the neighbor kids to cut it, grass has a special way of looking when people are away from home.
I look out the window at that brown mass starting to turn green and it’s as if I could see an iceberg coming down the street.
(This classic column was originally published March 24, 1985.)
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