Thinking About Grass

IMG_1094Okay, be honest: what was your first thought when you saw the title of this post?

The word grass can conjure a number of mental images, from the summery scent of a freshly mown lawn to the giddy feeling that results from smoking a different kind of grass. When some homeowners hear grass, the first thing they think of is work. I suppose the impression that first comes to mind depends on your personal interactions with the stuff.

As for me, I’ve never had intimate communications with the smoke-able variety and so can only reminisce about the mow-able type. Some of these memories were imprinted as recently as yesterday (when these pictures were taken), so this would more accurately be called contemplation, I suppose, not reminiscence.

When I was a kid, my dad mowed the lawn with a gasoline push mower. I remember him catching the clippings in a deeply chlorophyll-stained canvas bag attached the mower. He’d empty the bag into a wheelbarrow, then dump the wheelbarrow at the back of the yard, where the piled clippings rotted with earthy green smell.

My grandpa, as I recall, had an electric mower, but he didn’t have as much grass to cut. All he had to mow was the tree lawn in front of the house and a tiny area in the backyard, as most of the back was taken up with my grandmother’s extensive flowerbeds. Not much mowing to do, but a lot of weeding! Yard work was fun in those days, because we kids got to play while someone else was doing the work.IMG_1099

I’ve done a little mowing, but I usually leave it for the menfolk because I don’t do well with power equipment. If I use a hungry machine, I’m afraid it will end up eating one of my feet, or at least a few toes. For the same reason, I prefer to hand-weed the garden rather than use the rototiller.

Here, Craig mows close to an acre. A large portion of it is weeds rather than grass, but we use the general term grass to describe the lawn; it’s all green, and that’s all we care about. This time of year, when everything alive is excited about the warming temperatures and lengthening of the days, the grass grows quickly. Not only does it need to be cut more often than it does in midsummer, but it’s heavy and lush. And so we rake it.

Raking an acre of grass isn’t as bad as it sounds, because Craig blows it into windrows with the mower, like a farmer does when he cuts a hayfield to be baled. So, rather than raking the whole yard, we only have to gather the grass from long strips. I’ll sometimes let Craig get half the mowing done, then go out and start raking. By the time he’s done, so am I, and it works out nicely.

IMG_1095So what do we do with all this fragrant, fresh-mown grass? Mulch the garden with it, of course. Since we don’t use lawn chemicals, it’s the perfect solution. Putting the grass to good use makes the effort of mowing it seem worthwhile.

One small problem: in the spring when the grass grows quickly and we have to rake, we don’t have much in the garden to mulch; but once the weather is warmer and the bulk of the garden is in, we don’t have enough grass clippings to make raking worthwhile. Now, however, the grass is abundant and the garden is in its toddlerhood, and we mulch everything in sight, like these little onions in their snuggly bed of grass. What clippings remain when everything’s thickly mulched, we spread on the garden to be tilled in at planting time.

I love the sweet, green, summery smell of grass. I also love a warm evening when the lowering sun casts long shadows. The rest of these photos aren’t about grass, necessarily, but they give a glimpse of the homey beauty of our freshly-trimmed yard in the slanting rays of an evening sun.

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