Then the day before yesterday, while we were having school, I saw a truck from the Borough parked outside the house, and one of the workers carefully measuring our grass. Yes, that is what they do around here, measure people's grass; if it surpasses a certain height (the exact number of inches eludes me at the moment) then the offending homeowners are fined. We do not know if someone reported us or if it was random stop by the lawn police.
As one might guess, the lawns of our neighbors are manicured to perfection, pumped with so many chemicals to create an almost unnatural shade of green, excessively pruned and prim and utterly devoid of charm. The houses are ranch-style from the seventies, as utilitarian as can be imagined, and ugly as sin. The lawns are maintained at great effort and expense, which is so strange since no one is ever seen sitting in the front if their homes, enjoying the result of such costly maintenance; it is all just for show.
Not that I do not enjoy gardening myself, I do. However, in the last few years, things have gotten a little out of hand in some of the flower and herb beds, which seems to bother our neighbors more than it bothers me.
Such bourgeois obsession with lawn care is completely alien to me. When I grew up in Maryland our house was at the end of a long driveway, surrounded by dense woods, on a back country road. Even had we lived in view of the road, it probably would not have kept my father from leaving his canoe in the front of the house, where it could be more easily loaded onto the top of the car for frequent outdoor excursions. While we did have a front yard, sort of, the pine trees created dense shade; the grass never grew very tall. Along the sunny side of the house, my mother made a sloping rock garden with bonsai trees, rhododendrons, and a profusion of petunias and marigolds. No grass to cut there. As for the lawn in the back of the house, it was surrounded by woods and pasture. There were dogwood, sassafras, oak, maple, and plenty of pine. Some trees were draped with wild roses and honeysuckle, which would bloom in June. Often, in the spring, we would let the horses out to graze in the lawn, which made for a rather lumpy effect, but why let such lovely grass go to waste? And we were outside a great deal; it was a place of beauty, mostly due to the rusticity.
Now I live in the most conventional of middle class neighborhoods, where lawn maintenance is enshrined in law. Not that a yard should become a wilderness, and there are times when the municipal authorities should intervene. However, for a city to pay people to measure the grass of private citizens in order to discern whether or not the yard offends is a bit much. But, unless I like paying fines, cutting the grass as soon as it gets an inch beyond the designated height must be a priority, because such is life in "Happy Valley." Share