Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Next Door Neighbor Has Obsessive Compulsive Lawn Disorder


My next door neighbor lady has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder. She has planted well over 100 varieties of flowers and she mows her lawn three times a week. Because our side yards abut and she is unhappy with the length that I mow my grass, she mows my side yard so it conforms to her high standards. She stays up at night worrying about the deer and other varmints that dine on her shrubbery. She has spent well over $100 a bottle for pepper flavored plant spray that deer and other critters are not supposed to like. It doesn't work. Infact the deer enjoy it as a condiment. A few years ago we had an attack of moles and the poor dear nearly had to be institutionalized.

My old friend Kent lives in Las Vegas Nevada and has a front lawn full of large sized gravel. I envy Kent. What little foliage that he has surrounding his house, he can only water several times in a week because of the water shortage. I have not met Kent's next door neighbor, but I could safely wager that she does not have obsessive compulsive lawn disorder.

How did a plant species like grass that is ill suited to the United States and the patrician taste for a rolling expanse of green take root from the shores of the Atlantic to the desiccated terrain of Southern California? The short answer is that it didn't, not until after the Civil War. Although Washington and Jefferson had lawns, most citizens did not have the hired labor needed to cut a field of grass with scythes. Average homeowners either raised vegetables in their yards or left them alone. If weeds sprouted, fine. If not, that was fine, too.

Toward the end of the 19th century, suburbs appeared on the American scene, along with the sprinkler, greatly improved lawn mowers, new ideas about landscaping and a shorter workweek. A researcher investigating the psychology of suburbanites in 1948 observed shrewdly that the American work ethic coexisted uneasily with free time, and that "intense care of the lawn is an excellent resolution of this tension." This psyche also sprouted a new industry of mowers, wackers, chemicals and telephone agents that call incessantly to inform you that for a small fee their company will make your yard beautiful or at least as nice as my obsessive compulsive neighbor lady's yard. At least until the moles arrive.

I used to feel guilty that I was not out there every other day mowing, weeding, seeding, watering, trimming and mulching. I worked too much when I was younger and now my back aches, my arthritis bothers me, the summer sun is too darn hot and I just plain don't give a tinker's dam.

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