May 20, 2003

The Law Of The Lawn

The Law Of The Lawn

A couple of weeks ago, I called my parents who live in Tokyo. Conversation with my mother, as is often the case, centered around my life and their's. However, as soon as the phone was handed to my father, the conversation took a drastic, if somewhat expected turn.

"So, how's the lawn looking?" he asked.

My father loves his lawn. Nay, my father deeply loves his lawn. On a warm July evening, if the wind is just right, you can hear my father softly serenading his lawn with a lyre, lulling it to sleep.

Unfortunately, because my parents live in Tokyo nine months out of the year, my father is prevented from dedicating as much time as he would like to his lawn. Therefore, come April, it falls upon me to travel back to my hometown about once a week to ensure my parents' yard is kept trim and proper, which is to say I run over it quickly with a push mower and call it good. My father doesn't understand my lackluster approach to lawn care.

"You know, If you find the time, you should really look around and see if there's some crabgrass that needs to be pulled out."

I don't know what crabgrass is. I truthfully don't care what crabgrass is. And, I'm certainly not going to comb over my father's lawn looking for some strange grass that I imagine is crawling with tiny, angry crabs.

During the summer months of June, July and August, when my parents are home, it's common to see my father patrolling his lawn during the day, looking for rogue dandelions or any other weed that may catch his eye. Should he spot a nefarious non-grass growth, he'll drop to his knees and begin frantically tweezing at it with his thumb and forefinger. Once he rips the weed from the ground by its weedy roots, he'll immediately search the surrounding area for other weed spawns, slightly resembling an eager dog snuffling for gophers as he does so.

"Do you know if they came and sprayed the lawn last fall? If they did, there shouldn't be many weeds this year. But it wouldn't hurt to check around to make sure. You should do that."

My father and his lawn are the prime culprits behind yearly river fishkills, and the main reason why there's an annual spike in stock prices for TruGreen ChemLawn. If my father isn't on the phone calling a lawn service, he's out with his own spray bottle targeting weeds with more precision than any satellite guided missile in the U.S. arsenal.

On more than one occasion, my father accidently mixed the chemicals in his spray bottle way too strong, effectively creating a concoction that could kill a sequoia from 20 feet away. The end result was a lawn dotted with splotches of chemically-fried grass, much to the dismay of my lawn-loving father. Undaunted, however, he simply dug up the burnt patches and planted anew.

"If you find the time, you should also bring the hoses out and put them out near the facets. It could be getting pretty hot soon so you might want to get some water running on the boulevards. It's sandy and dry on that part of the lawn, you know."

Which brings me to my father's other main lawn-related pastime: watering. The man waters his lawn more than Nile farmers irrigate their crops. He buys sprinklers by the crateload. It's rare for me to drive home to see my parents in the summer and NOT see and arcing rainbow of water waving back and forth across the lawn. My father simply isn't satisfied unless his feet sink a quarter of an inch into the dirt. Then, and only then, is the lawn sufficiently watered.

"Don't let the mowed grass pile up on the lawn. If it's too long, you might have to rake it. Be sure to rake it."

Sure, Dad. I'll get right on that.

Posted by Ryan at May 20, 2003 12:06 PM
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