September 12, 2008
By Al Carlos Hernandez
After many years of malicious ambivalence and doing the minimum to keep the lawn alive, our front lawn became a victim of the final gopher attack and went to go play checkers with Elvis. The lawn became pattenered bald like many of my compatratirots; the Raton underground dug random holes and occasionally poked their heads up just to mock me.
We commissioned our sons to dig up the lawn and start all over again with a clean slate. They piled up a ton of dirt and greenish clumps, within one day the squares where the lawn used to live was a plane of lumpy dirt, and the gophers took their show on the road.
It is shocking to see something that was one way for many years completely different from one day to the next, the minds eyes remembers how it is supposed to look and reality seems deceptive, it is sometimes hard to deal with a brave new reality.
We hired a crew to remove the mountain of mesugana dirt and old memories of a flawed lawn that could never really grow out right, never realizing its full potential. Sure we mowed it, watered it, but the old grass was a hybrid of many different kinds of grasses clandestine weeds and renegade flower or two. My front lawn philosophy at the time was as long as it was flat and green the bald spots would eventually cover and no matter what, the gophers come every 4 years anyway to mess things up.
Although my Grandparents were field workers, I have absolutely no Mr. Green Jeans-genes, so I took a major short cut to sure thing lawn care success.
Back in the day, you prepare the ground, put down topsoil, fertilizer, smooth it out then gingerly place lawn seed and within weeks green blades start to pop up, like a small crop, when the lawn fills in you kill a fatted calf and have a feast with fellow villagers who would be proud of your efforts.
We hired a contractor who laid a wired mesh Prison Break styled foundation so the gophers couldn’t dig up and in, they brought in a pallet of Kentucky blue grass, laid it down and rolled on strip by strip a whole new readymade transplanted lawn. Overnight we went from worse lawn to best lawn, like a bald Howie Mandel going from chrome-dome to bio-dome.
The rice rocket biker boys next door kept asking, Dude, what just happened? They were used to seeing my lawn as a continuation of their Mars landscape, now there was this wooden strip that on their side was grey dirt and brown blades, on our side was four inch vitamin enriched Christmas tree green fluf fy lawn that local cats pretended to swim in.
The neighbors on the other side were miffed aghast and flabbergasted. They were the same folks who won a prize last year for the best front lawn flower garden by the homeowners association. It was always my contention that they won the award because in contrast we helped them win by having one of the worse front lawns in the community. This is based on my brothers’ high school dating theory, which simply states that cute girls like to hang around uglier ones to make they appear even cuter.
The older, get off my lawn, lady took exception to the property line where the new grass was laid, she badgered the Latino contractor, saying that he should have extended the lawns another foot. The Contractor iced the discussion by simply saying, referencing my wife, “This is how the Lady wants it”.
Even the UN Churched knows better than to become contentious with a college educated urban Latina Nicaraguan business owner. The neighbor then began to blame her husband for not helping sitting on his behind and playing video games. I was impressed that a 75 year old guy could play video games.
We can’t believe what a difference a day makes, I like a proud Papa water the lawn every afternoon, and find myself vigilant in keeping kids and critters off of the new green. I never realized that a lawn is a living thing a community of plants who grow in concert interdependent with one another, if one part starts to die the others tend to fill in the gaps.
They share food, water and they are bathed in sunlight they are majestic in their poetic unity.
I’ve learned a lesson.
Nature does nothing uselessly.
Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.