Friday, June 19, 2009

Grassroots Rebellion

She digs in her garden
With a shovel and a spoon,
She weeds her lazy lettuce
By the light of the moon,

She walks up the walk
Like a woman in a dream,
She forgets she borrowed butter
Any pays you back in cream!

Her lawn looks like a meadow,
And if she mows the place
She leaves the clover standing
And the Queen Anne's lace!

~from "Portrait by a Neighbor" by Edna St. Vincent Millay

We were not made for suburban living. DOB thinks we would do better in a townhouse with a bit of a balcony; I think we would do better in a remote cabin in the mountains or by the sea. I guess an unkempt suburban lawn is by way of a compromise (and cheaper and closer to work). Our neighborhood is not at all pretentious, but I fear even so we are an embarrassment to the neighbors, and we got tangible evidence of that earlier this spring when a notice arrived that our weeds were too tall and the city would soon be coming by to provide its mowing service for the low price of $75. Which was even more than the neighborhood boys who had been beating a path to our door for the past month.

The stars aligned and the mower was working and somebody was available to push the mower and not occupied on the even more critical task of keeping four small children alive and we actually got the front lawn mowed before the mower gave up the ghost altogether when faced with the back. This, however, was not enough, and a few days later I had to turn the city maintenance crew away at the door with pleas for mercy. (I thought later that I should have told them it was a cultivated meadow of native wildflowers, but I don't know if that would have helped.)

I ripped out the bed in the back most visible from the road and replanted it with real wildflowers--you know, the kind that come in a packet that says "wildflowers" on it instead of the kind that actually grow wild. I hope that satisfies everyone. Also we have ordered a reel mower, which I hope will be quiet enough that I can run it while monitoring the children. (And won't always be broken when someone finally has the chance to mow.)

Today I borrowed the neighbor's mower for a last powered whack at the tall stuff. I found myself feeling like a monster as the spiders and bees scurried out of my way. Where will the bees go for nectar now that I've mown the clover down?

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