Tuesday, June 15, 2010


When viewing land from the air, trees look like broccoli. And there’s a lot of broccoli in the Midwest, covering huge swatches of land interrupted by occasional rectangles of fields and huge circles of watered crops. Vegas, on the other hand, is just a big populated area surrounded by brown. And while there are trees within the city, they aren’t there naturally - they’re all connected to the water supply by a huge intricate sprinkler system.

In the Midwest, I drive along little bumpy country roads and marvel at the fact that not one of these plants or trees or bushes is hooked up to a sprinkler. And the roads aren’t just lined with weeds – they’re lined with huge groups of orange lilies with huge flowers and lush green foliage. No one had to plant these – they’re here naturally. Naturally.

To get water in the Midwest, you can hook up to the town water supply, or you can tap into a spring or dig a well. When I was a kid, before we got town water, our supply came from the spring far above our house on a hill. When it rained, our water turned muddy. In Vegas, I feel extremely guilty every time I water our plants because I know I am contributing to the draining of the already low Lake Mead. And yet, every plant in Vegas, every palm tree lining those casino entrances, has to be watered by Lake Mead.

When I’m in the Midwest, I drive past greenhouses and plant stands and wish I could go buy some flowers, trees, or bushes for our Vegas home. The plants are varied and vibrant – they just cry out to be taken home and put into the fertile earth where they’ll settle with a contented sigh and happily live their lives with you. In contrast to Vegas where we have to use a pick axe (I’m not kidding) to dig a hole to plant something, Midwestern soil just lies there and invites you to softly dig with a hand spade and add life to your yard. I miss gardens that are supposed to be, plants that want to grow there, and ground that doesn’t fight you with lifeless dirt and rocks. Midwestern gardens don't instill guilt.

Yes, I may be a tree hugger who hates wasting water, but my desire to create an escape in my backyard – a mini Midwestern oasis to remind me of my roots and take me home – will force me to continue to hook up sprinklers and make my husband get out the pick axe. My apologies to Lake Mead and my husband.

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