Sunday, June 29, 2008

Edible space

I saw today that one of my (daring & irreverent) gurus, Crunchy Chicken, did a recent post on edible lawns. I was thrilled to finally learn the name of those little yellow sour flowers! For me, that sweet-sour taste is a reminder of childhood and long summer days without adult intrusion, something that doesn't occur in most kids' lives today -- probably a good thing, since I often wonder how so many of us survived!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The green, green grass of home

It is raining again, several days in a row now, and I can't help but despair as I watch the water swirling down my storm sewer, because I've already seen my neighbors dumping chemicals on their lawns. The houses in my neighborhood are maybe 5 blocks from Lake St.Clair, and our storm sewers empty directly into the lake. In fact (lest you doubt), the storm sewer in front of my house is stenciled with a fish, and the statement that it goes straight into the lake. Even so, no one here seems to make the connection between their green lawns and the pollution that is building up in our little lake, particularly in the canals, on the beaches, and near the shoreline, and getting worse as the water levels drop.

I understand my neigbors' lawn lust. I value green stuff around my house. When I was little, it seemed like there was soft, green grass everywhere, and I know that no one watered or put fertilizer or pesticide on any of it. It was only recently that I realized, from a sudden flash of mental image, that it probably wasn't grass at all. I remember huge areas of clover, pink and white, and those little yellow flowers that were bittersweet to eat. And liberal splashes of dandelion, every child's favorite flower. As kids we loved to lie on our backs and watch the clouds, to roll down the little hills, to crawl on our bellies in the soft "grass." After a soaking rain, we used to run outside with mason jars to pick up the nightcrawlers, to sell to the fishermen for a nickle a dozen.

In the 8 years or so I've lived in my current house, I have seen a few anemic worms, but never a night crawler in my lawn. When I "googled" clover, most of my 'hits' came back with information about how to kill it in lawns, even though we used to think it was a perfectly acceptable grass plant. I wonder if we will ever start to ask ourselves whether it's worth it, to fight the chemical battle that is destroying us in order to nurture the ordinary grass that is not native to our area. Meanwhile, in my lawn, I let the little johnny jump ups and clover flourish, and I will not apologize when it turns brown - as it definitely will - later this summer. If I'm lucky, my house will sell before then . . . and I'll move on to a new lawn that I will also neglect! Next time, though, I'm going to look for clover seed and other native plants, and see if I can create a lawn worth rolling in.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Recycle This

I guess this is what it is to grow old. I have been nostalgic lately, thinking about the many different me's I've been over the years. Me's long ago abandoned, the way we do with everything these days.

The me who aspired to be a Dr. Doolittle, in the hopes that animals would have more to tell me than the adults in my life. The me who hitchhiked across Massachusetts to a macrobiotic commune, where I ate oatmeal with raspberries and took a walk after dark in an old cemetery where there were more fireflies than I've ever seen, before or since. The me who skinny dipped alone in a West Virginia lake, and then took a train to a folk festival where I saw the sloop Clearwater and heard (according to Pete Seeger) Don McLeon's first performance of "Bye Bye Miss American Pie." The me who first saw the ocean when I was 20 and completely submitted to something I never wanted to leave. And the me who left anyway. The barefoot me in an army surplus jacket who looked like a wraith and played the dulcimer.

The me who settled for less than I wanted out of the fear that my first choice would never come, and (wrongly) thought that second best would be better than nothing. Who was, in fact, afraid of a million things, failure, embarrassment, hurting other people's feelings, not being pretty enough, not being thin enough, not wearing the right clothes . . . good lord, what a petty bunch of me's that was! The me whose second child was born at home, before the midwife got there.

The me who went to law school even though I had never met a lawyer, and even though I would rather have been able to stay home with my children. And also even though, as it turned out, I don't much like law. The me who somehow, over time, morphed into someone who has become sensible, or maybe just lost her nerve.

I've been wondering lately where some of those other Me's went, and how I ended up with this one. Nothing is never lost, or so they say. One of these days, then, I must check the Cosmic Recycling Bin, to look for the parts of me that are still good, still usable, and recycle them into the latest version.