Sunday, March 20, 2016

Taming the Ground Beneath Our Feet

The squirrels were active today. It was a little warmer, and they were running amok. We like to throw stuff in the yard for them to gather. I will walk through the yard and discover little holes they have made in random areas.

It occurred to me that this bothers some lawn owners. You know those guys .. the lawn has to be completely perfect. Blades of perfect grass all at the perfect height. Weeds are not tolerated or permitted. No amount of chemical soup is too much to keep that pristine green. Gophers, moles, squirrels? The enemy!

No matter that those very weeds can feed, nourish, heal us. They are to be poisoned out of existence. Never mind that those chemicals suck into the skin of the children for whom we think that perfect lawn is necessary. Keep control.

There's nothing better looking than a well-manicured lawn. Large green blades of grass, clipped to the proper height is the dream of many homeowners. With just a little care and these tips and techniques for lawn maintenance, you can be sure to get a lawn you'll be proud of and the neighbors will envy.

Ah. There it is. At the smallest scale. Do you see it? This is the very beginning of control over Nature. Maybe we don't start out thinking about it that way, but that's what it is. Exerting control over the ultimate female, Earth. We plant grass in climates where it shouldn't be planted, and we water it when there isn't water to spare. We poison the earth to kill what would grow there naturally, to make room for the perfect lawn. And why? Because a company that made Agent Orange needed to keep making profit after the war and started selling the same stuff to us wrapped in a dream of perfect Suburbia?

Growing up, I recall my neighbor faithfully had ChemLawn come to treat his lawn every year. Our lawn just across the driveway was full of dandelions, because my father wasn't one to spend money on things like chemical treatment of a lawn. Our dandies let their seeds go all over the neighbor's treated lawn all the time. Even as a child, I saw the ridiculousness there.

We've made long practice and profit in trying to tame Nature in "our" little patches of earth. We compete to be the best, to look the best, to have bragging rights of ... what, exactly? Our yard is a mess, by other people's standards. It's full of weeds, which I personally cherish because I use them. When it's freshly mowed, it looks as nice as any other that is choked with herbicidal poisons. And when it's a little overgrown, it's still green. I bet I have more weeds than actual grass. Bees and squirrels and groundhogs and bunnies any and all birds are welcomed. Lightning bugs love our yard. In fact, those bunnies and groundhogs never go into my garden, because they have enough wild stuff to eat in the regular lawn. Maybe things wouldn't eat your garden if you didn't poison the rest of the stuff?

Let's give it a rest. Let's stop trying to control Nature. Let's work with her for a change and see what happens.