“It’s one of those days for taking a walk outside.
I’m blowing the day to take a walk in the sun,
And fall on my face in somebody’s new mowed lawn.”
— Daydream: by Lovin’ Spoonful
The green is finally here — and I’m not talking about the political Green.
I happened to notice that the world is much greener now when I was out walking our dumb dog Scamp and I found myself humming one of my favourite John Sebastian tunes about falling face down on somebody’s new-mowed lawn.
Doesn’t that say it all about a beautiful spring-summer day?
It got me thinking about lawns. As we strolled around our regular neighborhood route, Scamp stopping at every bush, post and fire hydrant to check his peemail and dribble his own return messages, I wondered how on earth a shih tzu the size of a bag of fertilizer could conjure up that much piddle.
By the end of our walk, he must have squirted the equivalent of a city water truck full of urine, which is an image that I don’t really want to think about.
But I digress. I was also thinking about lawns.
Scamp and I pass many lawns on our walks, and I can’t help noticing that there are as many varied and interesting lawns as there are houses.
This, in itself, is not much of a profound revelation — every house has a chunk of land out front, ipso facto (from the Latin: ‘ipso’ — ‘my house; ‘facto’ — ‘has some lawn’).
It’s just that one minute you’ll be passing what looks like the pristine perfect greenery of City Hall Park and right next door the lawn looks like a dandelion grow-op.
Not that there’s anything wrong with dandelions. I hear that they make a nice salad and a drinkable wine, although that sounds like an urban myth to me, but I would rather see them in someone else’s bowls and bottles than on lawns. My own Better Half thinks they are “pretty,” but I come from a background where dandelions, quack grass and other lawn abominations are strictly forbidden within several kilometres of any dwelling.
I clearly remember my Mom on her hands and knees on her perfect lawn with a tiny brush and a small jar of her own special weed-killing potion, painting every single individual blade of quack grass that would have the audacity to try to sneak up through the flawless carpet-like greenery.
Dandelions wouldn’t even dare.
If golf course maintenance experts and professional landscapers would have seen her lawn, they would have been wiping tears of joy from their eyes.
So you would think my own personal lawn would be a picture of lush green beauty worthy of falling on your face in after I mow it. You would be sadly mistaken.
Oh, our place looks just lovely I must say, but it’s certainly in spite of and not because of yours truly. At our house, the lawn is basically my responsibility; everything else is taken care of by the BH. So the flowers, shrubs and various other plant embellishment items look very nice indeed, it’s just that the lawn is, well, in a word: pathetic.
It’s basically a collection of brown scrub interspersed liberally with spiky green quack grass and dotted with dozens of round dirt-mound ant hills. It’s not that I don’t try. On the occasions I do crawl out of my basement office, I often mow the little lawn, put legal fertilizer on it and add some water when it isn’t raining.
This apparently only encourages the quack grass to grow and multiply even faster. At least by summer the mowed quack grass looks a bit like a nice green lawn if you stand across the street and squint.
I blame it on the spruce tree. We planted a small spruce tree on the front lawn when we moved in years ago. It was transplanted from sister-in-law Karen’s place at Sylvan Lake, and it was very nice of her to give us one of her trees. But of course at the time I had no idea the tree would grow into a deformed 10-metre behemoth whose sole purpose is to suck the life out of my poor little lawn.
I was daydreaming about this as I compared lawns on our walk when the leash snapped tight behind me, nearly yanking the leash dispensing handle thingy from my hand.
I knew what this meant. Sure enough, Scamp was firmly planted in potty position in the middle of the nicest lawn on the block.
I should have been paying more attention to the First Law of Lawns and Dogs: “Dogs consider it their canine duty to do their doodie on the lawns whose owners will be most proportionally upset.”
This meant that I had to trespass onto the lovely lawn and carefully clean up after my dumb dog and walk the rest of the way carrying a plastic bag of odoriferous dog poop, desperately hoping that I wouldn’t meet someone who wanted to stop and chat for a while.
Around the corner, we detoured down the alley, deposited the deposit into the first available garbage can and made our way home via the back yard, which, of course is in much better condition than our front yard because no one can admire it from the street.
I do like our neighborhood ramblings, though, and I’m only a wee bit green with envy when we pass by those patches of perfection that some lawn people painstakingly create with obvious pride.
As for my pathetic little lawn — I’m thinking either rock garden or possibly Astro Turf.
But then, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of falling on my face in my new-mowed lawn. It’s OK though, both my neighbors have excellent lawns. I just hope they don’t mind finding me face down on their property once in a while.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate.