Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mow to Hell

Remember those foxes living behind my residence that I showed you about a month ago? Fat chance I’ll ever see them again. They are (were?) living at the edge of an enormous vacant area that is the former site of a pickle factory, long since torn down. The weeds, wildflowers, and sapling trees had grown up fairly tall, perhaps owing to the large amounts of rain we’ve been getting here in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. Well, apparently we can’t have any of that. Tonight I discovered that somebody in a tractor (the tracks were evidence of that) mowed the entire area. That act has effectively ruined my after-work life of exploring in these days when the sun lingers until around 8:30 PM.

Citizens of the United States have become entirely too good at destroying urban, suburban (and increasingly, rural) wildlife habitat in the name of cosmetic appearance and liability issues. It is this latter notion that has really gone over the top. God forbid that a mosquito carrying West Nile virus, or a tick harboring Lyme disease should be lurking in the tall grass waiting for some poor soul to walk by. We certainly can’t afford to have a dead tree fall on a parked vehicle, or the roots of a living one buckle the sidewalk where a person could trip and fall. We collectively no longer tolerate risk of any kind from natural sources.

Meanwhile, our culture celebrates stupid risk, be it the stock market, legalized gambling, or extreme sports. Nature must be conquered in eco-challenge reality shows, but the natural world must not be allowed to fight back.

Neighborhood associations and government municipalities are also keen on instituting codes of uniformity for the appearance of yards, gardens, lawns, playground structures, and the exterior of homes and buildings. The result is a sterilization of nature, the introduction of hoards of exotic ornamental plants and their associated insect pests, and the release of who knows how many chemicals into the environment from the application of fertilizers and pesticides.

Weed ordinances provide for stiff penalties if your grass exceeds a certain height, or the clover, daisies, and Queen Anne’s lace compromise the integrity of your lawn. Well, I am here to tell you that one man’s weed is another man’s wildflower. The clover actually benefits your lawn, by the way, by fixing nitrogen and making it available to the grass. As far as I’m concerned, though, the “weeds” are those very lawns, a blight of turf in a land meant for meadows and and glades

I have an idea for a cartoon I want to draw and submit somewhere. It starts with a panel depicting a man sitting on his front porch watching a conflagration in his yard. The next panel shows his neighbor rushing to the fence and screaming “Your lawn is on fire!” In the final panel, the man casually replies “It’s a prairie.” That will be the day my friends.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. It seems so tragic to mow my lawn when it's full of beautiful blooming wildflowers and strawberries beginning to ripen, cutting off the heads of the cheerful dandelions and reducing it all to bleak monotony. But the neighbours give me the evil eye as clover and creeping charlie start to spill over onto their pathetic flat little postage stamp of green, and eventually the landlord calls to say she's arranged for someone to come by and mow it for me. Sigh.

    The other thing I hate about the lawnmowing obsession is how I go outside to curl up in my hammock and read a book on a beautiful Saturday morning, enjoying the birdsong and peace and quiet when suddenly WRRRRRRR, angry lawnmower noise leaps up all around me as the neighbours eagerly start into their favourite weekend activity.

    Someday I will live somewhere with no neighbours in sight and my lawn will be made up of gardens and beautiful meadows!

  2. Thank you, Kenoryn, for sharing your own experience and philosophy, and giving me encouragement:-)

  3. Thankfully I live in the country on 86 acres and I can let my flower beds get as unruly as I darn well please, and believe me I am greatly pleased! I am rewarded each day with gorgeous song birds plucking the seeds off coneflowers, and enough insect activity to make even the most seasoned entomologist envious. Snakes and frogs galore, it is sheer heaven.
    I work with a lady who told me she was being taken over by mice in her house, and she couldn't figure out where they came from. I told her how in the fall we have mice come in, when the farmers are combining their crops. It seems to stir them up and they look for new places to inhabit. She mentioned that a large lot across the street from her had been mowed recently, voila! There is where her mouse trouble began. Sometimes it is best to leave well enough alone. She ended up catching 6 mice in two days! She said all the butterflies are now gone from the block, with no flowers they've moved elsewhere. I get so frustrated, why can't people appreciate mother nature in all her disorganized beauty?