Seeing Green

“As if the earth sent forth an inward heat to greet the returning sun; not yellow but green is the color of its flame; – the symbol of perpetual youth, the grass-blade, like a long green ribbon, streams from the sod into the summer, checked indeed by the frost, but anon pushing on again, lifting its spear of last year’s hay with the fresh life below…. so our human life but dies down to its root, and still puts forth its green blade to eternity.”                – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

It happens every spring anew, the world explodes in green and birdsong.  The endless winter is behind us, school is almost out for the colleges and U-Haul trucks and vans are commonplace, the roads and rest areas are getting more crowded with tourists, lawn mowers and leaf blowers roar back to life, and pools filters begin to hum again.  Spring in New England is here again.

As Thoreau observed 120 years before I was born, the blades of grass begin to rise up once again, bringing welcome life to a lawn that was looking pretty pathetic just two weeks ago.  I’m grateful for its return and look for the bare spots that require re-seeding. When you live on the northern edge of the woods the lawn gets a lot of shade.  When you don’t invest in an irrigation system the lawn fights for a drink with the trees and shrubs that surround it.  When you don’t dump massive amounts of chemicals on your lawn you lose some gain to the insects who nibble on the roots, and the weeds that would gladly supplant the bluegrass and assorted other grasses that make up a lawn.

Twenty years of maintaining this lawn, and in general it continues on perpetually.  A few troublesome spots where the microclimate doesn’t give the grass much of a chance.  These are the places that the natives take over and moss and dandelions and all the things listed on the bags of chemicals make a home.  These are the places where the tires from the mower wear down bare spots in the yard that harden over time.  Irrigation and chemicals would help in these spots.  Maybe a less aggressive mower too.  But to me these are minor considerations.  When you look at a lawn you know immediately if the homeowner prioritizes it.  My neighbors likely shake their heads at the contrast between my focus on the garden and my apparent disregard for the lawn.  So be it.  At my home low in the valley and snug up against the woods there’s a natural order to things, and moss tends to be more natural than grass.  But it has its own lovely shade of green this time of year.

I hired someone to mow the lawn several years ago.  That decision has trickled down to my dwindling overall focus on the state of the lawn, which in turn trickles down to my focus on edging and weeding the beds.  The neighbors must look with perplexion towards the flower garden and pots that I meticulously tend every season.  I’m a fickle gardener, and perhaps I need to tend to the rest of the yard once again.  Or perhaps not, and continue my adventures elsewhere.  After all, spring is in the air.

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