They lost things in the grass. A bicycle. Water hoses. A barbecue. Kiddie pool. A roll of barb wire. Coffee cups. A bag of concrete. A swing set. A tether ball pole.
These things were not discarded or abandoned in the grass. They were lost.
There had been a first use or non use, a summoning of some minor or grand initiative (let’s attract ducks with the pool!) some dollars spent, some effort expended, and then…and then…the grass took over and these things were hidden and not remembered. What can’t be seen can’t be remembered. At least things can’t. Most people, too.
The grass perpetrated no malice taking over. It was happy grass going to seed, waving in the wind, uncut, chemical free, occasionally integrated with colors from other flowering plants. Please don’t call them weeds. Bumblebees rejoiced!
The dog wouldn’t shit in the grass. He figured he might get lost, too, or host a flea festival.
Richard Brautigan called this sort of grass The Revenge of the Lawn. He got that right.
Grass just wants to be left alone. And here it was!
So why does it make me sad to see it? I suppose it’s because I think first of the people who aren’t mowing this grass and losing things in it.
Let us ruminate now on the people who let the grass go wild. Or did they? Was there anything conscious in the decision? Or what is a non-decision? Maybe they’d read Brautigan and became disciples. Maybe it was some kind of protest against mowing, the useless mowing of grass, laboring only for an aesthetic. All that snarling noise, black smoke and sharpened metal.
If only the people had invested in a flywheel mower! Now that’s something bucolic and makes a pleasant trilling sound. A flywheel also misses most of the dandelions. They escape the blades and go on tilting at attention, like tiny flags in a groovy country.
Wait! A flywheel mower was also lost in the grass. They let the handle fall to the ground one afternoon and it vanished.
You can’t really say people who lose things in the grass have gone to seed. I used to believe that, but I’ve changed my mind, my definition of the phrase. People who have gone to seed are waving in the wind, uncut, (usually) chemical free, spreading their wild seeds and sharing the field with other plants and tiny creatures of the field.
They are not part of America’s manicured lawn. They are not conforming. They will become part of a meadow! Or a glade! Who wouldn’t prefer that to a lawn?
Most. It’s so much easier being part of a lawn.
Think about something else, too. The wilder the grass gets the less likely invaders, such as blackberries, gorse, scotch broom, bamboo and capitalism, will find a foothold, then spread, spread, spread and then occupy forever.
Also consider this: a perfectly operational riding lawnmower stood parked at the edge of the grass, near a large spruce. Actually there was another mower as well! No, wait, it wasn’t a riding lawnmower. It was a small tractor with a mower deck. It could have cut the “lawn” with two passes. Five minutes.
Both were shiny and new and cost thousands of dollars each. Give it a couple of years, and they’ll be lost in the grass, too, near the rowing machine and council of lawn gnomes.
So if the people in the house who lose things in the grass have not gone to seed, where have they gone?
They are merely gone.
Americans dissipate. In great numbers these days. Grass doesn’t.
Once the grass had been a front lawn, disheveled for sure, but a lawn nonetheless, a lawn at the end of a long gravel driveway. A home stands there, barely. It would become lost one day, along with the people in it.
A house lost in the grass is sad when so many people live in tents on concrete or out of their jalopies. Or ride a bicycle 10 miles in the rain with a ukulele to play for a free breakfast.
The grass where things are lost is not Walt Whitman’s grass. Walt’s wild grass had promise. Every single spear. You put a spear in your mouth and you feel wild. You walk with a spear in the mouth, and you don’t feel lost at all.