Lawns. They can be an obsession. On the TV sitcoms I watched growing up, men were concerned with three things. Going to work. The family car. And the lawn.
These were the tacit boundaries of a man's life. You were either going to work, under the car, or doing something on or to the lawn.
Now, I was a little worried. I didn’t have a car, didn’t have a job and lawns where I lived were not much to write home about. The houses where I grew up were spaced like kids in first grade gym class, at arms' length. Kids in first grade have very short arms.
But we lived next door to the church where my father was the pastor, so we probably had the biggest lawn of anyone I knew. It felt like a little park. The neighborhood kids loved to bring their sleds in the winter when it snowed because we also had a hill.
When there wasn't snow on it, the lawn was pretty much green except the dirt parts where we played run the bases and home run derby. And the parts where we threw the ball for the dog to fetch. Didn't seem like all that much to worry about.
Maybe a job and a car wouldn't be such a big deal either when the time came. I attribute this to my overriding, and sometimes unfounded, sense of optimism.
Turns out jobs and cars were a little more complicated than I first believed. Lawns? Forget it. Lawns always been way beyond my control. Most of my adult life, I’ve lived in church parsonages where no one would ever consider seeding the lawn, not when they already put in electricity for Pete's sake.
And besides there was always all those kids around playing run the bases, home run derby and the dogs slobbering after tennis balls. Green looked pretty good to me most times. Whatever was actually growing in it.
It’s taken me a long time to appreciate a good lawn. The kind that feels like a lush carpet. A green so deep it seems right off a paint card from Home Depot. I am in awe.
And, maybe some day I’ll get into having a great lawn and all the dedication and work involved. But I’m still mostly happy with green. And with grandkids now, and tricycles, and dogs chasing squirrels, balls and each other, it’s just as well I think.
When I want to appreciate a good lawn, I take the dogs and we go up the street, where the houses have some of the lushest lawns I have ever seen. I stand and admire them and the dogs flop on their backs and roll around, groaning contentedly. Then after awhile, they get up and shake and we go back home, where there’s squirrels to chase and balls to fetch on well worn paths of dirt that for me at least, have always been the surest path to happiness.