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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The absurdity of suburbia

I have lived in suburbs my entire life.  It is what I know.

However, my childhood neighborhood was of the sort that didn't have a name and didn't have a homeowners' association.  We didn't have a neighborhood pool and matching mailboxes at the curb and no one paid dues.  It was basically all the houses behind St. Rita's.  It had once been farmland that was sold and the streets named for the farmer's children.

My dad spent goo-gobs of time on his lawn, not because someone in the HOA told him to but because he liked puttering in the yard and having a pretty landscape.  We had two dark pink azalea bushes on either side of our front steps, and in a good year, they were luscious and overflowing.  He took pride in keeping an attractive yard.

Yesterday a friend's dad emailed sent me a joke (see below) about lawn care and then last night I attended my HOA board meeting where we talked about neighbors whose yards are less than stellar-looking.  (My own particular peeve that I discussed being people who allow the suckers that grow at the bottom of their trees to grow as tall as the branches.  Cut the damn things back for crying out loud.)

I know it is completely persnickety and stupid to give much of any consideration to yards and landscaping when there is so much else in the world to be fixed.  It seems more than a little wasteful of one's time and energy to discuss it or think about it.  I mean, all of the properties in my neighborhood have seen their values decline in the last two years and it's not because Joe Blow hasn't immaculately weeded his front flower beds.   No one named Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan lives on my street but they are some of the numskulls that caused housing prices to plummet.  

I am guilty of allowing it to ruffle my feathers, and it bothers me that it bothers me.  Perhaps the reason HOAs of all kinds get hung up on stuff like this is because it is "controllable."  I can't control developers plowing down trees all over the place and building a zillion concrete boxes to sell stuff.  I can't control new roads and construction and increased traffic.  I don't get a say in how many parking lots are poured with only 1 or 2 trees planted every 3 rows.

But dammit if the deed restrictions say yards must be well-maintained then if a weed is as tall as my preschooler it needs to be cut down.  I can harangue my HOA president to death and feel like I am getting some results a hell of a lot faster than when I email my senators and state representatives and mayor and US president.  It is easier to be a squeaky wheel in a suburb than in the world at large.

Still, I know it is absurd.

GOD: 

Frank, you know all about gardens and nature.   What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to  the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a   perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil,   withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting   blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green   rectangles. 
St. FRANCIS: 
It's the tribes that settled there, Lord   The Suburbanites . They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with  grass. 
GOD:   
Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract   butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing   there? 
ST. FRANCIS: 
Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to   grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and   poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn. 
GOD: 
The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must   make the Suburbanites happy. 
ST. FRANCIS: 
Apparently not, Lord. As   soon as it grows a little, they cut it -sometimes twice a week.   
GOD:  They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay? 
ST.   FRANCIS: 
Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.   
GOD: 
They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?   
ST. FRANCIS: 
No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it   away. 
GOD: 
Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away? 
ST. FRANCIS: 
Yes, Sir. 
GOD: 
These   Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and   turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of   work. 
ST. FRANCIS: 
You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When   the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to   water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of 
it.   
GOD: 
What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall   to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life. 
ST.   FRANCIS: 
You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new   circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and  pay to have them hauled away. 
GOD: 
No!? What do they do to protect  the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?   
ST. FRANCIS: 
After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it   around in place of the leaves. 
GOD: 
And where do they get this   mulch? 
ST. FRANCIS: 
They cut down trees and grind them up to make   the mulch. 
GOD: 
Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore.  St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you  scheduled for us tonight? 
ST. CATHERINE: 
'Dumb and Dumber', Lord.   It's a story about.... 
GOD: 
Never mind, I think I just heard the   whole story from St. Francis.  




2 comments:

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

I LOVE that you posted this. I swear I JUST had this conversation with a friend--ranting on about how my pet peeve is lawns and all the unnatural wastefulness in maintaining them. Hee hee. Hilarious.

Kelsey said...

That joke is pretty good Carrie! And it is one email I hadn't actually seen yet. :-)