Lawn care and life

July 02, 1998|By Dick George

THE OTHER day a big truck came and dumped a pile of mulch in front of my house. Evidently we had ordered it.

I have always cut my grass and that's about it. From the logic standpoint, I'm not sure even about that, except if you don't cut it, the land returns to wilderness, which kind of appeals to me but the neighbors don't like it. Property values and all. So I cut the grass.

Over the years I have made other concessions. Last year I bought a fancy edger. At the time, it seemed important to find my sidewalk. The feeling passed and the edger is still in the box. I intend to use it some day. In the fall I rake leaves. I don't know why, except if you don't, they kill the grass, which sounds like a perfect arrangement to me but is not popular with others close to me whose opinions I value.

All of this has been annoying in a minor way, but something in me positively shuddered when I heard that dump truck backing up with the beepers going. I watched it hoist its load slowly into lTC the air, and then the mulch slid violently into a pile, like a base runner safe at the plate. As the dust hung in the stillness, a sadness descended over me. I realized with stark clarity, mulch equals middle age. It has come to this. I am a mulcher.

Before long I was shoveling and hauling organic matter all over the yard, an activity that occupies the body and frees the mind to wonder, "What am I doing? The weeds always win in the end." Plus, I identify with the weeds. Even as I pull them out and dump mulch on top of them, some secret part of me is whispering to them: "Don't give up. You can do it. Go weeds."

I mulch on. There are forces of nature that cannot be resisted. For late 20th century mid-life men, this is one such force. It is a stage of life: infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, mulch.

Dick George, of Baldwin, originally wrote this for National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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