As kids, summer evenings would often find my sister and me in the back seat of our box -like 50 something Chevy station wagon, windows cranked down for fresh air, enjoying a ride away from the city to surrounding towns. Our dad would steer us through upscale suburbs to see bigger homes, bigger cars and bigger garages. And, of course, bigger and more beautiful lawns than I’d ever seen.
While my sister and I sat as far apart as possible to avoid catching whatever big sisters and little brothers give each other when they accidentally touch, our mother swiveled her head left and right, giving us her simple commentary. With ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, she described the elegance of these sprawling homes and equally stunning landscaping. This must be paradise, I thought.
Our dad, however, took a different approach. An avid sportsman who generally spent his leisure time in pursuit of, or preparation for, time on the water, fishing, lawn maintenance was a low priority. He had little regard for the home owner who spent hours mowing, and he expressed himself succinctly…
“Look at him, you wanna be that guy?”
It was a sultry summer evening, the kind that makes ‘life’ come to a crawl at the end of an eight-hour shift, nothing or nobody wants to move. From my bench by the back door, I scanned the east and north section of our lawn as it ran away from me toward the street, like a wave rushing back to its ocean after washing the shore.
I had just finished another session of mowing and was tired, but satisfied. These two sections presented a near picture perfect postcard of how a lawn should look after a meticulous manicure.
Passersby surely were impressed as they intersected the cross streets. The four-way stop gave drivers a moment to pause and enjoy the beauty of it all. I’m certain they gave me a nod of appreciation. It was hard to tell, as the perspiration dropped off my brow and blurred my vision.
I was exhausted and hot. The cold soda can tickled my nerves as I swiped it across my forehead. Mosquitoes were enjoying my flesh but my arms were too tired to swat them. It’s the price I pay for a beautifully landscaped piece of earth, my lawn.
While admiring my work, I recalled an earlier time when my dad would take us for rides in the suburbs and the rhetorical question he would ask.. It seemed like just yesterday. And with a smile, I answered his question…
“I’m that guy!”
To gardeners everywhere who take pride in their lawn and have wonderful family memories, as well