Winterize Your Lawn
Introductory Note. “Winterize your Lawn” takes a whimsical look at a very serious flaw in the American lifestyle. The grassy, well-kept lawn, which we have come to think of as an inevitable and never-ending icon of our culture, will eventually have to go. As sure as the sun sets in the west, we will eventually be forced by the necessity in the form of water shortages and environmental pollution to find a better use for our time and limited resources than the meaningless ritual of grass growing. Our stubborn adherence to the culture of the lawn will surely make us the laughing stock of future civilizations—the society that worked its fingers to the bone watering and nurturing a useless crop that we then harvested with noisy, smelly little toys, and sent to the landfill in neat plastic bags.
As silly as it seems, lawn care has become such an entrenched ritual in America that to criticize the custom is like failing to support the troops or refusing to kowtow before the flag.
“Winterize your lawn,” by an unknown author (or one too wise to reveal his name), is encouraging to me because it reminds me, a lawn atheist, that the Almighty is really on my side. – Gene Franks.
Winterize your lawn,” the big sign outside the garden store commanded. I’ve fed it, watered it, mowed it, raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I’m supposed to winterize it? I hope it’s too late. Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we’ve come up with outside of thong swimsuits! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four-step chemical dependency.
Imagine the conversation The Creator might have with St. Francis about this:
“Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracted butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.”
“It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great extent to kill them and replace them with grass.”
“Grass? But it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?”
“Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.”
“The spring rains and cool weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.”
“Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it–sometimes twice a week.”
“They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?”
“Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.”
“They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?”
“No, sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.”
“Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?”
“These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.”
“You aren’t going believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.”
“What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.”
“You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and have them hauled away.”
“No! What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and keep the soil moist and loose?”
“After throwing away your leaves, they go out and buy something they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.”
“And where do they get this mulch?”
“They cut down trees and grind them up.”
“Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?”
“Dumb and Dumber, Lord. It’s a real stupid movie about…”
“Never mind. I think I just heard the whole story.”