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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ground wars

To look at the lawn from a ways away, especially in this wet and humid summer, is to pretend it's a real lawn, green and quiet. Up close, however, there's an awakening. It's green, but it's not quiet. That is, there's a war of weeds going on. The tangle and jangle amongst the puny tufts of grass is deafening.

Actually, I don't mind this war. In normal summers, most of the grass is browned by now and the various dandelions and worts provide some illusion. This year, it's almost lush. Nor do I care to have the kind of trophy lawn prized in certain sections of certain suburbs: far too much work, far too comfortable. And the kicker: I like to weed.

Well, let me qualify. I don't particularly like to weed gardens, for that keeps the mind too active thinking about past failures and future fixes. The point of lawn weeding is not to think. Also, you can't really sit in a garden.

So the proper technique for lawn weeding is as follows: each day, go around and behead the tall stems of dandelions, or if you're feeling ambitious, pry the enemy combatants out of the ground. This postpones the task of mowing; if you can sit on the deck and see that no stem or flower exceeds, say, six inches, you're OK at tomorrow at least. Then, as a reward, sit on a suitable section of lawn, sunny if it's cool, shady if it's hot, and engage in battle. I recommend sitting with your back to the bay. It's far too easy to get distracted from the task of mindless reverie if you're always looking out at things of beauty and thinking about how your initials could stand for John Keats. Use your dominant hand, please. The other one is awkward and gets in the way of smooth nothingness. Every once in a while close your eyes and murder by touch. You can easily discover those little weed nodules, above which leaves sprout and below which roots debouch, without the use of radar such as eyes. This is important for appreciating that weeding is an endless, dark and hopeless task, especially in a lawn like this one. Stop after half an hour, in the interests of mental health.

There. You've satisfied your blood lust, made a square foot of yard safe for suburbia, and composed your next blog post.

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