The Great Inner Debate as to whether to mow today or tomorrow got sidetracked when it rained at lunch. Okay, tomorrow. But I had Bacon Cheeseburgers for lunch and my body tells me that I have to work out. That means going into town. Going into town after lunch means that if I go to Starbucks I’ll get jacked up enough on coffee that I might not get to sleep until midnight. That means I’ll sleep until eight or so and by then it will begin to get really hot. The heat in and of itself will be a great workout but I have to mow the front and the back. In real heat that’s really pushing myself; it takes about three hours. So when the rain stops it feels cool enough to give it a shot. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to mow I go.
I wonder when mowing became not only fashionable but socially compulsory? You can be fined by your city government if your grass is too tall. That means it’s a law that a city full of people have got to either pay someone to cut their grass or cut it themselves. That means once a week or so, on every little postage stamp lawn, all the grass is going to be a prescribed height. The uniformity in this is more than a little frightening considering that lawn produce nothing but mower fodder. It’s like that Facebook game, “Farmville” where everyone puts a lot of time and effort into growing nothing at all and then stressing about it.
Lawnville: the internet craze that’s interactive with your entire body!
There’s a guy I know that has about fifteen thousand dollars’ worth of lawn care equipment. He has a yard that’s maybe a quarter of an acre. He has one of those zero turn radius mowers that he had to buy a trailer to haul it from his house to his dad’s house, and his lawn is a little smaller still. His dad has one of those twin deck eight bladed mowers that won’t fit on anything that didn’t have enough square area for a F-16 to land on at night. I think the blades that go on those things cost as much as my first three cars combined, not that it’s saying much about it.
I remember when one of my friends, who was a lawn person’s lawn person, tried to talk me into getting into the game. He dug a hole in my yard and put the dirt in an envelope and sent it to NASA or someplace. They wrote him back with a fifteen page step by step analysis of what it would take to get my grass as green as that on the other side of the fence. He told me I could borrow his areolater and his dethacher and his motorized spreader. This was exciting. He wanted to take before and after shots, so we could tell how well the fertilizer was working each week and we could…
He sat in silence and looked at over my wretched, dog dugged yard, with its armadillo scars and its brownish areas and its fireant mounds and looked all the world like a man who had just been told the orphans would not be saved and the nuns would perish.
“The Nitrogen?” he asked, like a man who was asking about the last ditch effort to break through enemy lines to resupply the army.
It was not going to happen and it still hasn’t. The yard looks very much like it did when I moved out here in 2001. There were no fences and no giant canyons in the yard, of course, but the dogs fixed that as soon as the fences went up. I do better with fences than I do lawns, as it were. My friend has long since given up on turning Hickory Head into Eden but I think he’ll go to his grave wanting to hit this place at least once with some 10-10-10.
All of this, in my opinion, is terribly superficial. We’ve been given land and we’ve been given the time to do something with it and all we can think of is to grow something that needs cutting. We can’t eat it, we can’t feed it to other animals, and we don’t use what we grow. Just like Farmville, Lawnville eats up money and time but it also eats up arable land. I’ve started converting some of my front yard to produce but I think next year I’m going to do a lot bigger with it.
It’s hard to believe that two hundred and thirty-nine years ago, a bunch of farmers and rural folk got together and decided to start a war with the biggest army in the world. All they had was hunting rifles and the idea that they ought to be able to decide for themselves how the government was going to be run. There were to be many years of war, hardship deprivation, but on this day, so long ago, the decision was made to go through all that just to see what was going to come out of all the effort. Farming, real farming, is a lot like that. The idea that farmers began what is now our nation is not farfetched and I believe that if we want to become more independent from the government no longer for the people, we have to start farming again. Whatever else you’ll hear from the Conspiracy Theorists, you’ll never hear them talk about everyone on the same block getting together and growing their own food.
That, my friends, is true independence. And it is interdependence.
Whatever you do today remember the people who started it all were a bunch of people who liked to get their hands dirty. They liked watching things grow. They knew the land and what it was saying to them without sending an envelope to NASA.
I look to the day I can do that.