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May 13, 2014

BEAM: Back in the suburbs again

— John Wayne once said there are some things a man just can’t run away from. Mowing the grass on a beautiful spring weekend apparently is one of them.

Not that men mind one cotton picking bit, mind you. It’s not a chore to them, but an adventure.

You see them riding high over the horizon, the brim of their baseball caps pulled down to shade their eyes from the noonday sun. The husbands of our little neighborhood sway back and forth in the seats of their lawn mowers as they wrangle up the grass from their half-an-acre plots of God’s most glorious land. As the men loop around, they greet each other with a head nod, followed by a two finger wave.

“That lawn across the way is looking mighty fine,” screams my husband over the cantering engine. “Mighty fine, indeed.”

And it does.

The house across the street from ours could be the poster home for one of them big city lawn company. Not a single yellow bloom shoots out from the waves and waves of thick, lush grass.

Mr. Bill, the homeowner, loves that lawn, so much so that he mows it at least three times a week. Mows might not be the correct word. Mr. Bill sculpts that grass like a master sculpture to clay.

When the precision mower comes to a halt, a checkerboard of perfectly symmetrical lines intersect each other, stripes through an ocean of alternating light and dark greens.

When Mr. Bill’s finished with all the weed eating and watering and prettying, you can’t believe your eyes. That lawn is so perfect you expect an apple tree to rest smack dab in the middle it with a naked lady tempting you to take a nibble.

Full-bladdered dogs scramble with their tails between their legs from its splendor. Children leave their rolling balls in its backyard so as to not disturb one single stalk of its inescapable beauty.

Grown men sob into their T-shirt sleeves, wishing, praying that one day the good Lord above might grace them with such a place to run their boots over.

“You know, our lawn could look like that with some work,” says my fella, brushing a tear from his sunburned cheek. “Kids could get involved, make it a family ‘fair. Why, we’d be the envy of the whole street.”

If there’s such a contraption as grass goggles, my husband certainly is wearing them.

Our lawn is the antithesis of Mr. Bill’s majesty. At any given time, no fewer than 10 pieces of various sports equipment, four ant-infested Barbies, seven crushed cans of spilled pop and a half dissolved cardboard box used to gather bugs litter the yard. Come at the right time and you’ll catch a cat or two scratching around in a flower pot, most of which are still filled with tan, brittle stalks of long dead daisies from two seasons ago.

Junkyard dogs feel right at home relieving themselves in our brown patches. Children, especially little boys, do too. And grown men cry when they think about how much their home value has decreased by having to be next door to such a monstrosity.

“Yeah, that’ll do her. We’ll get that grass nice and fit before too long,” my husband chuckles like a coyote in a hamster house. He heads off to grab the pruning shears.

Over the wood pile made a half decade ago, dandelion seeds disturbed by the mowing chase a wish and follow the grass scented wind.

— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at adbeam47@aol.com

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