I believe in letting my yard grow tall and jungly. I know this pains my neighbors and I try to make up for it by keeping my front lawn clear of anything too unsightly, and pay some local kids to cut it whenever it starts to attract larger, savannah type fauna. The back lawn occasionally gets mowed by some unnamed person in my neighborhood, some sort of yard care ninja that slips in and around my garden leaving green stubble where once there was a thick beard of grass, dandelions, and dog poop. I am grateful for the kids and the mysterious interloper who mows the back, but I won’t cut the grass myself. Some may call me lazy, but I believe that mowing the lawn isn’t worth all the noise. Winter in Portland, Oregon is a drawn out and damp affair, and the instant a nice day rolls around my entire world is filled with the buzzing of machines. I walk through my neighborhood with spring flooding my nose and eyes, but my ears are assaulted by the cacophany of small scale wars between Man and Nature. Soprano weed whackers, alto leaf blowers and baritone mowers weave strident harmonies to drown out the other voices of spring: laughing children, the chirps of returning birds, and the whisper of gentle breeze. It’s not that I am grumpy with people who like nice lawns. I just wish we could enjoy both the smell of new cut grass and the cheerful peace of a nice afternoon.
I once received a notice from the city, asking me to mow the lawn or pay someone in their employ to cut it for me at the modest rate of $50.00. I was all for asking our neighbor Shock to clear the grass, but my roommate had other plans. She went to a used tool store and bought a scythe and promtly went about reaping the lawn with startling zeal. She looked a modern Demeter, swinging her arm in wide sweeps with a half smiling, half grimacing expression. Sadly, an old rusty scythe in the hands of a five foot tall woman was no match for our heath, and so it became an ongoing process of chopping the grass just enough to appease the local officials and leaving the rest for another day. I have come to appreciate the memory. I asked her if she wanted to pitch in on a used mower, and she declined with a sly grin. “I like reaping the grass– when your hand swings the blade it seems more real. It makes me more aware that I’m cutting something.” Somehow, I know what she meant; the whole point of spring is to experience life vividly, to see and hear and touch and explore everything you do with a sense of wonder and excitement. It’s a time to leave the droning monotony of past struggles behind. It is a time to dance with life, not dominate it.
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