“The Grass Is Always Greener…”

We are trying to grow grass. For millions of people everywhere this is a simple accomplishment, but for us, it been a major problem. When we bought our house two years ago, we picked a large level lot, so we could grow scads of grass. Our lot also had very few trees, because when I was more naive, I didn’t want to kill innocent trees. Now, I understand that when I am angry at the grass for not growing, I can hack down a bunch of trees and feel better.

We moved to Londonderry, NH, which is a beautiful town — very well kept and close to nature. There is plenty of wildlife — especially in the form of blackflies, which are the state bird. It is a very peaceful area, except when the huge jumbo jets come rocketing in so low that you can visually inspect their tires for tread wear as they drift by. It is the kind of town where people from out of state drive through and see a chipmunk scurrying across the road, and they hoot and holler and wave and point and practically kill themselves driving off the road because they’ve never seen something so “damn cute.” It is everything that we ever wanted. All the lawns in the neighborhood are meticulously maintained — except for ours, because we have only dirt. I mean we try to grow grass — we fertilize, seed and water and all we get are more rocks. Occasionally, a single blade of grass will spring up, but either the bugs eat it, or it gets lonely and dies.

It took approximately three months to build our house, and during that time we almost actually saw our contractor on several occasions. Usually, we would see the discarded coffee cup and smoldering cigarette butt and we’d be happy with the knowledge that he actually showed up. (The way I figured, by the time we closed on the house, we’d paid him roughly $120,000.00 to hide on us.) Once when he wasn’t looking, we snuck up to the house and caught him there. We backed him into a corner and asked him when he’d be putting the lawn in. “The lawn?,” he asked, as if it were an alien concept — but he was dead serious. I kept waiting for him to start shrieking with laughter about how he really had us going that time… but he was serious.

“The lawn,” my wife and I repeated in unison. I guess he really got offended by this request, because as a crackerjack lawn maintenance team, he sent his two children. They were about fourteen years old, and by the looks of our lawn they had about as much experience at seeding a lawn as our contractor had at building a house. They would run haphazardly around our yard in an effort to see who could empty out their seed spreader first. This resulted in largish patches of our yard that had no seeds at all, and even larger patches that had huge gobs of seeds, which turned out to be just the right sizes for the neighborhood birds to feed on.

Naturally, with Mother Nature being the cold-hearted bitch that she can sometimes be, it manages to downpour about an hour after the seeds were so carefully strewn about. An interesting note about some contractors: they do not want to pay anybody to haul out all the debris when they are finished building, so they push it into several piles and bury it in your yard. Anybody that has recently had a house built knows that I’m not making this up. This little gem of a disposal technique resulted in some really spiffy contours in our yard that nobody really planned on. It really caught my eye during the downpour because it made it possible for all the water that was on the road to gush down onto our “lawn” taking every last individual seed over to the driveway, where it could flow harmlessly into the woods where it was starting to look a little barren anyway.

We told the contractor about this little incident, and to our surprise, he woke his children from their afternoon naps and actually sent them over to do it again. Of course, it rained again as soon as they were done. We were now teetering on the brink of insanity and we decided to toast Mother Nature’s wonderful sense of humor with large amounts of beer. It then occurred to me that we may be better off just getting a few hundred gallons of green paint, and painting the dirt and just forget about the lawn.

This is also about the time we realized that we have big clods of grass leaping out of our sidewalk and driveway, where we were relatively sure we hadn’t planted any. This really frosts my shorts. We plant, rake, water, and fertilize and get nothing, but our driveway needs mowing. So to counter this prank of nature, we decided to hire a professional (gasp!) landscaper.

I have to give the landscaper’s credit, because we had about six of them over to look at our yard and only one of them lost control of his bladder while he was trying to stifle his shrieks of laughter. When we told them what we wanted done, the most common response was, “No, seriously.” We told them, “we are serious,” and it scared some of them away. Finally, we hired one, set up an appointment and he showed up six hours late, and then managed to break his rototiller in record time. (This decorative tool sat on our lawn until he had it fixed.)

Well, it’s two months later and we finally have grass. Now I hate to be a constant complainer, but it grows too fast. Usually by the time I finish cutting the grass and have a beer, it already needs to be cut again. If I were to actually stop drinking my beer and stare intently at the grass, I would be able to see the individual blades of grass squirming out of the ground. I can actually hear it growing. After a few more beers, I can hear it talking to me. “Rick,” it will say, “you can’t stop us.” and then it laughs ominously and begins emitting what is known as “grass pollen” at me so that I start gasping and sneezing and I have to curl up in the fetal position to feel better. Unfortunately, this is not the type of behavior that your neighbors want you to exhibit — especially if they are trying to sell their house. But they don’t understand because they have normal lawns — they don’t have to lie on their front lawns with a beer in each hand screaming at the top of their lungs at their grass, telling it to stop talking to them.

Well, so far nobody bought either one of the vacant lots on either side of us to build their houses on. It’s just as well. I wouldn’t want any weirdoes moving in next to us.

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