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.

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