The Girl of the Meadow and the Lady of the Freshly Cut Grass

“Every tree and plant in the meadow seemed to be dancing, those which average eyes would see as fixed and still.” – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

“A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule”. – Michael Pollan

I push mow my grass.  For several reasons.  One reason is that heretofore I have been too cheap to buy a riding mower.  To tell you the truth I have never even ridden a riding mower, so there is probably also a bit of intimidation there.  Mostly, though, decided that I am healthy enough to push mow it, I get exercise when I do, and when I bought it (right after I purchased my house), it seemed the best decision for my budget.  But I had no clue my yard was as large as it is until I mowed it for the first time.  It seems never ending.  Mowing is a fairly big project…it takes over two hours.  Time that is precious to me.  Also, I am allergic to almost everything outdoors….including grass.  Often after mowing I end up with headaches or wheezing or just generally feeling bad.  I don’t usually hate mowing, but it gets to be a burden.  One that never seems to end.

I live in a neighborhood full of beautiful lawns.  Most of my neighbors really care about how their yard looks, and invest much time and money to see that it is looking its best.  I have a feeling I am their nightmare.  I don’t feel the same passion.  Often the only reason my yard gets mowed is that I don’t want to be a bad neighbor.  Grass that gets a bit high doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I suspect it bothers them.

My lawn is also full of what others would call weeds.  That doesn’t bother me, either.  The neighbors, who try to keep their grass weed free, probably scowl at the idea of the seeds and spores my plants send through the neighborhood.  The weeds seem much sturdier than my grass, and stay greener longer.  They also create beautiful flowers all over my lawn…which make me hurt a bit every time I mow them down.  Yesterday I actually felt a bit of pain as I mowed over a dandelion, whose head was perfect for making a wish before I blew it away.  Does the same concept work when it is mowed down?  Will the wish come true?  I don’t think so….I believe the wishes only come true if the fluff dances in the breeze.

Was talking to a guy last year that is an admitted yard snob.  He can poetically describe the perfect way to prune the branches of a tree.  Really, he could talk about it for hours…if the person he is talking to has a longer attention span and a bit more interest than me!  He meticulously prunes everything in his yard, and it totally delights and satisfies him.  It was the time to mow my lawn for the first time of the year and while I knew to stay in the good graces of the neighbors I had to do it, I hated the idea of losing all of the beautiful flowers that were sprinkled around.  I tried to describe it all to my friend.  He finally hesitated a bit and said “Your neighbors think you have a lawn, but in your eyes you have a meadow.”

He totally captured the truth of it all….the internal struggle I feel.  While I do love the way my yard looks  with freshly cut grass (especially at this time of year when my mulch has been refreshed, my branches pruned and my azaleas and my tulips are in full bloom), I most treasure the meadow.  The wildness of the paintbox of nature, splashed around here and hither.  The mature part of me knows that I must mow on a regular basis, but the girl inside would rather take off my shoes, walk in the too tall grass, and pick flowers.  While others may not see the beauty in its meadow state, to me that is when there is the most beauty to be seen.

Some of us are people of  the freshly cut grass….respectable and doing what we should.  Pristine among the unmowed lawns and taunting them a bit in our perfection.  Crisp in our knowledge that we are right and proper…well, because that mental picture of the “perfect lawn” that is in our head is what everyone has told us should be right and proper.

Others are the people of the meadow, living life a bit less perfectly, a bit more at random.  Covered with what we think are flowers, but what others see as weeds.  Growing with abandon, and often beauty, though sometimes the place that snakes and the rats hide.

Then at times we are simply the uncut grass, a bit too full of ourselves, and getting on the nerves of the neighbors (who know it is a personal attack against them and their property values.)  Not fitting in with the other lawns, but not caring. Sometimes caring, but living as the grass of someone who has much going on in their life that takes priority over their mowing the grass.  Or owned by someone who has never been told what a “proper” lawn should be and how an “improper” lawn will impact the neighborhood.  So at times annoying by nature, and at others misunderstood.

I don’t think I paid much attention to lawns before I became a homeowner.  Now they seem to consume a lot of my thoughts during the spring and summer months and frankly I would prefer those thoughts be out of my head.  I’m actually the person that doesn’t mind a drought… doesn’t mind if the grass dies.  It gives me less to be concerned with.  I seem to find out more every year about the expectations that some seem to have as to what constitutes an acceptable lawn.  I still find it all a bit overwhelming.

The day may come when I buy a riding mower.  It will allow me to mow over the meadow a bit quicker.  In fact, it may put me up a bit higher from it where I don’t even notice what is going on below me. But if I do buy one, I hope I keep the push mower and sometimes keep it in use.  I hope sometimes I continue to refuse to mow an area because I can’t stand the idea of mowing down the beautiful flowers.  While as a responsible adult I often have to be the lady of freshly cut grass, underneath it all will always be the spirit of the girl of the meadow.  With apologies to the neighbors!

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