This morning I woke up to a sound I hadn’t heard in a long, long time: the sound of a lawn mower.
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For a moment, while my eyes were still shut, the sound brought back pleasant memories of summertime at my parents’ house. Lawn mowers were a sure sign that summer was finally here. Sometimes, especially on weekends, many neighbours mowed their lawns at the same time – when they stopped, the air smelled like grass and the more subtle sounds of summer re-emerged: small birds chirping, seagulls, kids playing tag, someone whizzing down the hill on a bicycle.
I had never really put much thought into lawns until university, where I realized how unsustainable they can be. As an enlightened student, I passed harsh judgements on those who unconsciously mowed, watered, fertilized their patches of grass. I’ve quit the judging part, but I still can’t believe that lawns continue to be the preferred option for so many.
So this morning, when I opened my eyes and pulled myself out of my daydream, I wondered who would be using a lawn mower in this city – and not a rustic push mower (that would be a huge improvement) – but a full on gas powered lawn mower. It just seemed ridiculous.
A few years ago, a friend bought a house in a suburban development where lawns were no laughing matter. Grass was mandatory – replacing it with a garden was not an option. She had to mow it regularly or risk a fine. If the lawn looked unhealthy, she was guaranteed to receive complaints from neighbours and the residents’ association. Oh yes, all this for a patch of lawn no bigger than 20m2. Lawns are not mandatory here. Yet, given the chance, everyone jumps at the opportunity to grow their own.
I know, I know, this seems like a bit of a rant. I guess it is. That lawn mower’s contribution to the noise level on my street has almost made me cranky.
Oh yes, if you’re really curious about lawns, here’s a very interesting read on the lawn in its historical, artistic, literary, and political contexts: The American Lawn, by Georges Teyssot