Lawn Mowing Zen, Ray Bradbury, and Pink Grass

Update–August 31, 2015: Brown Is the New Green?

The hashtag #droughtshaming exists mainly to publicly decry people who have failed to do their part to conserve water during California’s latest drought. But the American image has long maintained that a “shiny, happy lawn” is one of the keys to happiness. Could artificial turf, native landscaping, or other methods replace the cherished lawn?

Update–August, 2015: This article says the number one crop in the USA is grass–history, oddity, and commentary.

New robotic lawn mowing technology aims to deliver freshly cut yards with little set-up.

Man Figures Out How to Make His Lawn Mow Itself
Is it the smell of fresh-cut ingenuity or a case of some dude going in circles?  

** As with other recent reports, this study indicates that being a couch potato is pretty much a death sentence, and it also makes it sound as if mowing the lawn is less like a chore and more a gift of life. Hmmm… on a hot day when I’m using an old mower, I wonder if it’s better to give than to receive.

The Grass is Always Pinker 
on the Other Side of the Fence 

In Ray Bradbury’s classic novel, Dandelion Wine, Grandfather learns that a boarder in his house plans to install a new type of grass that does not need cutting.  This gets his dentures grinding for several reasons: he believes grass cutting is a zen-like activity that allows one to think; he believes we should not be obsessed about the newest time-saving methods; he believes we should hold on to some of the simple tasks of life, especially if they are connected to nature.

Of course, some might point out that Grandfather was no longer the one who actually had to mow the lawn–he simply sat back, listened to the drone of the engine, and smelled the aroma of the fresh-cut grass.  Nevertheless, many would understand his lawnmower rite-of-spring: sharpen blades, change oil, tune engine. If the mower is old or reluctant, the ritual then goes on to include: adjust choke, pull chord repeatedly, utter occasional swear words. The first sound of the mower proclaims that winter has faded.  However, if certain trends prevail, we could one day be in for a “silent spring.”

Already we have electric mowers that muffle the sound, and rumors indicate we will soon have genetically altered grass that is either “slow grow” or “no grow.” Scientists are creating lawns that will be weed resistant, drought resistant, and possibly even lawnmower resistant. Some say we might have luminescent grass that glows at night or lawns that contain blades of varied colors. Maybe our grandkids will be saying, “The grass is always pinker on the other side of the fence.”
Proponents of this lawn-care evolution declare that the environment will benefit if sputtering gas mowers aren’t emitting carbons and noise pollution. They might suggest that properly engineered grass means fewer chemicals and no sprinkler systems during dry summers. Those bothered by the proliferation of biotech plants might disagree.  GMO corn, soybeans, and other crops already spark plenty of heated debates.
The simple act of clipping grass could also have economic impacts. Many of us earned a few dollars mowing neighbors’ lawns in the past, and nowadays, large companies compete for the privilege of sweeping in with the latest machines to make the yards look pristine. Yard-care services and lawnmower manufacturers could go broke. 
For several years, I lived in Tokyo, a concrete and steel city where few of the inhabitants had enough room for a bit of shrubbery let alone a well-kept lawn. Whenever I returned to the Midwest, I looked forward to the aroma of cut grass and the feel of a green carpet underfoot. Now that I am again residing in Iowa, I still anticipate the first signs of spring and the lawn ritual that goes with it, but I admit the thrill wears off a bit after repeated use. Maybe I could join “Grandfather” in rejoicing during that first cut of the spring, and then buy a few goats to take care of the grass for the rest of the summer. 
by dan gogerty (pic of rabbit from; pic of sign from; pic of sheep from

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