Monday, June 28, 2010
Leaves of Grass
Grass is a luxury – have you ever thought of it that way? An outdoor living carpet, it brightens up our yards, gives us a place to run barefoot, and in some areas of the country it grows naturally – all you have to do is keep it trimmed.
But we live in the desert, where grass is something to be cherished. Water restrictions have reduced the number of grassy front yards here, but many people still have a small rectangle of it in their backyards, watered by the requisite sprinklers that pop up four times a day and shower it luxuriously.
When you move into a new house in Las Vegas, the front yard is landscaped by the manufacturer, but the back yard is up to you. This means that while you unpack boxes and move around the new furniture, your view out back is of dirt. And I mean it – all you have is concrete block walls enclosing a flat dirt-and-rock yard.
We know that someday we’ll put in a pool, so we’ve been doing our backyard slowly on our own. (Why put money into it when it’ll just get ripped out someday?) We started on the left side of the yard and installed a high trellis to block the neighbor’s house, then we added a gazebo and outdoor furniture, then a stone path and plants. If you hold up your hand and hide the half of the yard that is bare dirt, it looks great.
The one thing we were missing was grass. We had avoided it because we didn’t know how to install those pop-up sprinklers, but finally I found a solution. I went to the nursery and bought five pieces of sod, which we laid in a long strip next to the path and hooked up to our regular watering system, hoping it would stay alive.
Our reason for adding grass to the yard, albeit a small amount? George. I knew he wanted grass – he often walks around the yard sniffing the plants as if he’s looking for it. And sure enough, I was right. As soon as it was laid out, he ran over to it, walked through it, ate some, then peed on it. He was in heaven. And two weeks later, the grass is still alive (surprisingly) and he runs straight to it every morning, first thing. After relishing his patch of grass, he stands at the end of the path – the part we haven’t finished – and stares at the dirt-half of the yard as if saying, “Would you get off your lazy asses and finish this thing?” (We decided that if George could talk, he would cuss now and then.)
I can’t help but feel that that little strip of grass has made our house seem more like home, more inviting, more…normal. Grass grows where families are, where people enjoy their yards and gather together. To me, nothing seems more like summer than the sound of a lawn mower or the whir of a fan in an open window. You don’t hear those often in the desert. And now, my husband can stand out back with the garden hose and water his very own patch of grass, a testosterone-filled ritual that every man seems to enjoy, like barbequing.
In celebration of our new grass, and in honor of the grass lying in your yard that you usually take for granted, let’s join Whitman, and loafe and invite our souls, lean and loafe at our ease, and observe a spear of summer grass. George and I will join you.