Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lawn Art

So, I owe a huge apology to the Husband.  I tried my hand at using a riding mower on Sunday.

I won't even post pictures, because they are too humiliating.  I mean, mowing a lawn is supposedly an unskilled labor, right?  I've been mowing for years, using a regular lawn mower.  It isn't rocket science, right?  Wrong.

Riding mowers are hard.  They don't turn on a dime.  They turn on a huge curve.  And the edges of that curve don't get mown.  So, you are left with a lawn that looks a lot like modern art.

Maybe that is what I am doing wrong.  I need to approach this as though I did it all on purpose.  

The overlapping paths are meant to symbolize the way our lives overlap in this world of billions of people.  The un-mown areas represent the paths we never took, a la Robert Frost.  The straight lines are few, because we as humans seldom keep a steady course--we are influenced and nudged slightly by even a few bumps in road.  The odd single blade that continued to keep upright even after three passes demonstrates those goals that we never achieve, and inspire us to tackle other goals before making another attempt, but ultimately teaches us that some goals are ultimately out of reach.  The graceful, curving lines of grass that remain un-mowed remind us that, just as we cannot truly appreciate a door without the door frame, neither can we appreciate a freshly mown lawn unless we remember what it was before.

Other artists work in clay, in oils or watercolor, photography and fiber.

Not me.  My medium is grass.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Children of the Corn

Summer is here.  Yeah, I know.  Not technically... but it is here.  The AC is on, my skin is baking by 9AM when I am outside, the dog is giving birth to little gray dust bunnies as she hurriedly sheds the last of her winter coat.

The garden is amazing.  I am a little uneasy about how everything I planted has been growing at unnatural rates.  Maybe all the chicken sacrifices are pleasing to the Garden God, who apparently manifests as a big fox with a toothy grin, and who was hanging around the chicken coop yesterday.  I hope the Garden God forgives me for my response, when I ran outside screaming, "**** you!!  I will kill you, *************!!"  At the top of my lungs.  And my voice carries.  I mean really carries.  Oops.

I am doing weed control in the gardens for now.  Clearing paths and laying down weedblocker before covering them with straw or glass clippings.  I hate spending more time weeding than tending to my plants, but if I do it now, I won't have to do it later.  Never mind that all the seeds which should have been thinned...haven't. There is this weekend, I guess.

I cleared a bunch of space around the chicken coop, and have planted some posts.  The regular fox visits and the discovery that we have a hawk nest on the west side of the house finally convinced me that I have to have a dedicated yard for them.  I cannot leave them in the coop all day long when I'm not personally be out there to scream obscenities at the fox.  And besides, more space will be required for the extra chickens I need to acquire.  The rooster is gonna need a decent harem pretty soon, methinks.

I have become a Lawn Mower Widow most Sundays.  The Husband has to spend hours on the tractor.  If we can get away with it, he occasionally skips the lawn so that all he has to attend to is the paths, but that is still quite a big job.  A big, boring job that involves s-l-o-w-l-y following the paths a few times, all the way around the perimeter of the property.

We read recently that the monarch butterfly is in desperate need of dedicated
 habitats with milkweed.  The Boy loves monarchs, especially since he got to raise some from the cocoon stage.  (He loved visiting the butterfly garden at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.)  This summer, he is planting pretty flowers so the butterflies will have something to eat, he says.  But, when we discovered that the two pastures have great pockets of milkweed, we sprang into action.

Or rather, the Husband began to take great pains to avoid the milkweed.  But, since he still wants to clear the pastures, he wound up cutting some interesting paths through the property.

Which path to take?
It used to be that the walking paths were pretty much following a fence line.  The property is shaped kind of like an L, but still.  Boring.  If you wanted to chase a madly giggling Boy, once you were on a path, you had no choice but to finish the path (which sucked when the bottom of the lower field had the swamp).  Now, there are short cuts, and paths that split, cute little curves and even bits of field left untouched in the middle of a mown area.  And yeah, they are filled with milkweed, but it means that we have a new game to play.

Children of the Corn.

For those of you who scorn all things Stephen King, this is a short story from the book Night Shiftthat spawned a several films.  The plot, long and short, is a bunch of kids decided their parents (and indeed, all adults) were too corrupt and not following religion well enough, so they killed everyone over eighteen, and turned God into a vengeful Corn God (He Who Walks Behind The Rows).  And the Shirley Jackson-esque twist is that the kids have to walk into the corn (i.e. sacrifice themselves to the Corn God) upon their nineteenth birthday.

Man, I love Stephen King.

Anyway, our game.  We are not growing corn, obviously.  We are growing healthy weeds and tall grass...but now there are new, winding paths, and you don't know when you will come upon one, or where any of them go, since they are not mown in a straight line in order to avoid the milkweed.

Maybe a zombie theme would have been better, but it is something to go down a path, and be able to suddenly crouch down and be hidden from ANYONE in the field.  When Amy goes tearing down the path (for no good reason other than it is there), I cannot see her at all.  The Boy has only to duck his head a little and he is hidden.

I see some epic battles ahead.  Water guns might be awesome, too, since summer has arrived with a vengeance.