Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The suburban jungle


I mowed my lawn on Sunday, trying not to reflect on the sad fact that I have been sucked into the suburban vortex of competitive yardwork, trying to shame my neighbors into keeping up with me. It is not difficult in our neighborhood. We live in a brand new house in a small housing development, yet no one around us seems to care that their lawns are so overgrown with weeds that small children could easily get lost in them.

I shouldn't be critical of their unkept yards. Before we moved into this house, I was one of them. Water, weeding and mowing were signs of weakness to me. I would not be slave to peer pressure and the perculiar American obsession with domesticating weeds in the form of a lawn. But there is something about moving into a house with a nice yard that sucks you in.

Both Tess and I are infected. I catch her sometimes muttering at the beauty bark and snatching at the mere hint of a weed peeking out. And I've discovered her staring out the windows on some evenings with her head cocked to one side as if she is listening to something.

"Do you hear something," I'll ask.

"Can't you hear it," she'll reply.

"What?"

"The weeds, I can hear them growing out there."

Yes, suburban jungle fever grips us both.

I catch myself mowing symetrical crop circles in my lawn while listening to Rob Zombie on my iPod. I imagine low flying aircraft will be able to read the messages I'm creating or at very least marvel at the symbols carved in my well coiffed turf. My electric mower purrs and mulches as I walk back and forth, cutting swathes of order out of the chaos of uneven blades of grass. Joseph Conrad would have called his book Lord Tim if he knew how I tamed my own jungle.

But as I cut the motor, and silence Rob Zombie, I can swear I hear a distant, yet steady drumbeat and I am filled with primative fear. Or perhaps it is the faint sound of a pan flute coming from my stone statue of Pan watching me from under the pine tree in my backyard that is taunting me.

In the back of my mind I know, that although the lawn has been tamed, the minute I put the lawnmower away and scuttle back into my house, the grass - and the weeds - will grow again. And the fever will return.

14 comments:

Lights in the wake said...

The same thing happens with the dust in my house. I dusted like, 3 times last year and the dust just keeps coming back. So now I just pretend it's a protective coating and leave it be.

iridethebus said...

Rod Zombie worked on "Pee-Wee's Playhouse."

Hayden said...

Tamed, tim? Tamed? I don't think so. Chopped off at their weedy knees, perhaps, but never tamed. You know it, as does Jess, and you listen to them flex their roots while you hide behind the glass.

(lights, I know EXACTLY what you mean. Just do what I do, post signs at your door "dust bunnies are a protected species" and your friends will admire you. Really. You can trust me on this.)

Tim ID said...

Lights,
All we are is dust in the wind. Or you are the wind beneath my sails. I always get those two confused.

Iridethebus, Is Rod Zombie Rob Zombie's brother? Rod Zombie sounds like a porn star. But then that would explain how he landed the job on Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

The Michael said...

A slave to your lawn.....how pathetic. Now, be sure to overdose it with lots of fertilizer and pesticides, as well as herbicides, fungicides, and anything that moves-acides. Keep it trimmed at all times to exactly half an inch so that it's boringly uniform thru out the yard, making sure to trim any stray blade that leans over onto the driveway is brutally cut back by a motorized trimmer. Oh, and don't worry about any body of fresh water nearby, the algea blooms just THRIVE on that runoff! Besides, being on city water, you don't have to worry much about contaminating the water table below you. The city will clean out all the contaminates before it charges you to pipe it back into your house....well....most of it, anyway.

And don't EVEN consider ruining the "charactor" of your neighborhood by putting solar panels on your roof.........that would be sooooooo pedestrian.

sorry, I hate lawns. Goats love them, tho, at least while they last.....grin.

Tim ID said...

Hayden,
I will break the lawn's spirit. I am Lord Tim. And don't get Lights started on bunnies.

THE Michael,
I'd say somebody has a case of the Monday's but since this is Tuesday I'd have to say it was just you being you. :)

kristy said...

Ah, the futility of yard work. I actually prefer yard work to house work. No one (except the grass) can come along behind you and un-mow the lawn the way they can un-vacuum a carpet. Or, perhaps a better example (since you have cats too) would be they way nothing stimulates a cat's bladder as immediately as the smell of a clean litter box. Ever noticed that? Now THERE'S some futility.

Tim ID said...

Kristy,

I do notice that about our cats as well. And we have the added bonus of having cats that should have been named after Linda Blair. We vacuum, they vomit.

R. said...

You might expect me to suggest using a robot to mow your lawn but you would be mistaken (not that you couldn't easily build one of course.) Instead I'll suggest you tear up all the turf except for a nice round easy to trim area where you go to drink your wine and swat mosquitoes. The rest plant with elephant grass. It requires no mowing and grows 6 feet tall. It has sharp leaves that repel intruders of all kinds. Weeds won't grow underneath since there is little sunlight. As a bonus you can get a machete and pretend you're in a real jungle hacking your way to secret treasures.

Tim ID said...

R.
An admirable suggestion. However, in the democracy that is our home, Tess' vote not likely be cast for elephant grass. She's kind of traditional in that way. I've had to convince her to allow clover to live.

shandi said...

When I was a homeowner (briefly) I was sucked into the same trap. I became so competetive. I trimmed my hedges to look like minature "Lord of the Ring" trees (or should I say ents?). Anyway, sure enough a couple of weeks later, the neighbors also trimmed their hedges to look exactly the same. Then I put in some red lava rock between the hedges. Guess what? So did they. Soooo you see, it really does work.

Tim ID said...

Shandi,
The next step would have been daisy pin wheels, pink flamingos and gnomes. Neighbor peer pressure isn't always pretty. :)

cherish said...

I am looking forward to fall when everything dies and the bugs go away. I have had enough weeds!

Tim ID said...

Cherish, fall is one of my favorite seasons as well. No more lawns. But now I have to get out the leaf sucker. Sigh.