Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Garden of Weedin'

I preface this all by stressing that I am by no means a meticulous person. My housecleaning philosophy is to invite only those guests with acute astigmatism (Ok, my father is an ophthalmologist) and a blunted sense of smell. Sort of like a proverbial unobserved tree falling in the woods: if no one notices or is ill-mannered enough to comment, then the clutter does not exist. When visiting friends' homes, I, in turn, encompass the trio of monkeys by neglecting to see, hear, or speak about mess or mold.

Having said that, I also have to confess that, when it comes to weeds in other people's gardens, I take no prisoners. And this is from someone who is philosophically against any sort of scenario that might theoretically involve the taking of prisoners: war, bank robberies, kidnappings. I am the first to admit that I am too lazy and uncoordinated to actually pull weeds from my own garden. No one in my household seems to be aware of the existence of weeds. And I will also, in the spirit of full disclosure, admit that we are too thrifty to employ a gardener.

My distaste for weeds is all the more incongruent given that my favorite flower growing up was a dandelion. I was well into my 20s before I realized that the puffy yellow flowers that morph into soft, but pollen-inducing, powder clouds are considered by the horticultural world to be the enemy of their lawns. I should have known then that I was not meant to live in harmony with nature. My lawn now is overrun with clovers, which I grew up thinking were somehow lucky, but now am told are the scourge of turf worldwide. Hmmmm.

I live on a block where everyone has front--and I imagine, back--yards. It is a pretty town, so it is not surprising that most of these lawns are well maintained. Even the little areas between the sidewalk and street are perfectly trimmed. I found out the hard way that homeowners are responsible for the upkeep of those little rectangles of sod. One day, shortly after we moved in, we came home to sprinklers aggressively watering the entire spread of sidewalk in front of our stretch of block. We were returning from a daytrip, and a neighbor ran up to us to inform us the sprinklers had been on all day. Since I had never actually been at home when the sprinklers went off, I assumed that this extra special watering (we live in a desert after all) was planned and funded by the largesse of our city. "Wow," I said to our neighbor--who is under the impression that my name is "Carol" and insists on using my name to punctuate every sentence he says to me--"this city really takes good care of the grass." The Carol-caller looked at me and gave it to me straight: "You own this land, Carol, and you will be billed for the entire day's worth of water." Whoops.

I tell you all this to illustrate that we live in a very conscientious and responsible neighborhood, where lawns are generally pristine and tended to by "professionals." So it is very curious that every time I stroll down the block to our corner Trader Joe's, I have to squelch the urge to yank what I perceive to be errant growths from these glistening rectangles of sod. The one exception would be the environmentally aware neighbors who insist on drought-tolerant gardens with plants native to the area (which, I say again for emphasis, is a desert). I have looked at such plants online and they are so pricey one could pay for months of overwatered lawns and still not break even. But these ecologically sensitive gardens tend to be wispy and look like the plants are all on death's door. One might think these gardens belonged to abandoned homes if the owners weren't so vigilant about cultivating these oases of faux weeds. I walk by and I just want water and prune. And, of course, weed.

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