I don’t know why anyone bothers watching the weather this time of year. This is Atlanta. This is mid-July. I can say without any sort of doubt whatsoever, that it is going to be hot outside. Really hot. Convection oven hot. And humid, with air so thick you can cut it into slices and spread it on toast. Sometime in the afternoon, there might be a thunderstorm, which is the atmosphere’s way of crying because it can’t take the heat.
It was in this heat that my son and I set out to mow the lawn.
Our regular division of labor had me picking up sticks and gum tree balls and hickory nuts, and my son retrieving the lawn mower from the rickety shed held together with spider webs and song bird excrement. Jacob mowed the lawn, I picked up sticks. We drank lots and lots of water, and soaked our t-shirts with sweat. It was brutal work for us soft and squishy indoor people.
As I supervised the final passes of the front yard from my perch on the front stoop, watching the heat waves shimmer off the driveway, I had this epiphany: grass is stupid. Lawns are stupid. Mowing lawns in seven billion degree heat is even stupider.
I will grant you that a lush green lawn, freshly mowed and lined with flower beds can be very pretty. There is no better place to play a game of touch football or practice your cartwheels. However, for people like me, the number of times in a decade that I get a hankering to play touch football or put my feet over my head intentionally can be counted on one hand. One fingerless hand. So it seems silly to maintain grass for that purpose. I also want to point out that nowhere in my yard is a lush green lawn. It is mainly crabgrass and clover, with a few dandelions thrown in for good measure. If you mow it all down, however, it is a pretty consistent green and it looks nice, and does product that fresh cut grass smell that is so wonderful they should make it into a car air freshener.
So as I sat there, grateful for my teenage son who was finishing up the lawn, I wondered what we could do with that space that wouldn’t require outdoor maintenance in the heat of summer. Most of our yard is wooded and natural, and I think that’s beautiful. But there are patches of yard in the front and back of the house that could be altered in some way.
A wildflower garden would be nice, but that would only look good while the flowers were in bloom, and it would be difficult to separate the weeds from the flowers. A basketball court or tennis court would look weird, and besides, it would be too close to the house windows for people to be flinging balls at high velocities.
How about making it a beach? Filling the space with sand deep enough to build castles and sink an umbrella in. That would be nice while it lasted, but no doubt rain and gravity would erode it away pretty quickly.
Then I had the best idea. A gravel mosaic. It could be kind of like a Zen garden, and I could change the pattern with the seasons. Snowflakes in the winter. A great big sunflower in the summer. Maybe a clover for March. Then I thought about lifting large bags of gravel out of the trunk of my car and hauling them into the yard. That’s work. Nope, one pattern fits all would have to work. Maybe some kind of compass rose or checkerboard pattern. Or maybe a great big spiral like the start of the yellow brick road. When weeds popped up, I could either yank them or spray them with toxic chemicals.
Meh, that’s work, too.
I guess I’m stuck mowing the lawn for the foreseeable future. Or maybe shelling out another twenty so my son will pick up the sticks, too, or maybe Tom Sawyering his friends into helping. Or his sister.
Or me. I’m such a sucker.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Told You…” is set to be released in the Fall of 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here.