Today, I did something new...
I recall my father seeding the lawn of our first house in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I either helped, got in the way, or merely watched. He raked the surface smooth with a wooden rake, rolled the dirt, spread the seed, and watered copiously. This is still the way a lawn is produced...unless you can afford grass in rolls. I never saw this during my years of living in the United States, but I would be surprised if this is not available to people with money and no patience to wait for grass to grow from seed. My father had no other option.
My daughter recently built a new house and has finally put in the lawn. This was done in one day with the help of many palettes of rolled grass and a bunch of men. The result is marvellous.
The result is marvelous. Unfortunately...or fortunately--some rolls were left over, which would have been trashed, if I had not taken them.
So, for the first time in my life, I laid down grass. Previous experience with grass had been strewing seeds to fill patches. My success rate has not been impressive, but I have cared little. I am not a grass fetish. I am certain that, after an atomic war destroys life, grass and cockroaches would survive and thrive. I do not water my lawn during dry spells, because I know that it will return the moment rain falls. Watering is a waste of water and my time. The most I will do is cut the lawn.
Putting down rolled grass is easy, once the ground has been prepared. It is much like laying carpet, although a bit dirtier. Time will tell if the bloody stuff survives. At least the result was quicker to achieve than with seeds and looks much better...for now. I had to wait weeks to play on the new lawn, whereas kids today can have a go at once.
Dirt, in the form of soil, is easier to deal with than people. Soil and plants do not talk back, ask stupid questions, or complain about silly matters. You do not have to discuss with any plant, before sticking it in the ground, pot, or window box and you never hear complaints about its care. Of course, poor choice of location (“No, I don’t like that spot. There’s not enough sun.”) or inadequate care show up in how it thrives...or does not.
Growing up, I always lived in a house that had a yard with trees and shrubs. I do not recall many flowers, beyond a few annuals (I seem to remember irises) that arrived each year and died a natural death without needing or having any human interaction. We did have a small vegetable garden at some of the houses, but not always. Flowers did not seem to be a feature of American life. Lawns were a much a higher priority, by which one’s social status was judged. I recall spending much of my youth cutting grass.
Flowers play a larger role in German life, as well as most European countries. Because less people have houses, window boxes are a feature of many apartments. Municipalities spend tax money on beautifying city streets and parks.
Flowers have always been a feature of the house in which I live, but I did not become involved until I had lived there a few years. I discovered gardening as a means of escape. If you spend your working day discussing things with other people, often without satisfactory result, it is good to do something with your hands and be able to witness a concrete result. Many turn to alcohol or drugs; I preferred getting my hands dirty. Now that I have more time and no longer have to deal with stupid people (many sins are hidden behind this generalization), it has become a satisfying pastime, the prefect refuge for any introvert. I enjoy success, but do not become upset by failure. I try different plants in different locations each year, if something does not thrive. I waste little time on the lawn, because I have learned that grass is resilient (after an atomic blast, grass is surely the first plant to return to life).
It is interesting to observe the march of seasons through vegetation, as well as to notice minute differences in climate with slight changes in elevation, latitude, and weather pattern.
Anyone that does not appreciate nature is missing a key feature of life on this planet. But, there are some (like politicians) that like the sound of their own voice too much to notice beauty....
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.