GOD AND ST. FRANCIS DISCUSSING LAWNS
GOD: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle 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 temperamental with 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. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle 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 and 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 they scheduled for us tonight?"
ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber", Lord. It's a really stupid movie about.....
GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.
I would never go so far as to call the grounds around my home a lawn. We've never used any commercial products to eliminate weeds or enhance the grass. Much to my husband's dismay. It's really just a mowed field...a yard at best.
When we moved here 28 years ago, our little house sat near the road in the middle of a field. With about 500' of frontage, we decided to mow along the road and around the house but leave the back of the field, up to the woods, growing wild. When the dandelions bloomed in the spring, we'd let the lovely yellow carpet go unmowed for awhile. This fact was a boon to our neighbor, who did his best to keep all the dandelions out of his yard. He'd go so far as to mow part of our yard so the flowers wouldn't go to seed!
When we built our farmhouse in the middle of the field that remained, we started mowing all the grass. A huge job! There's about 4 acres to mow and took about 4 hours to cut. Another hour to cut the banks near the road and at least another to weed eat. Nearly a full day's work.
There were wild strawberries, yarrow, plantain, chickweed, butterfly weed, self-heal, ground ivy and even a few mullein along the edges. But we cut them down before they had a chance to grow in the name of progress.
But this year, for several reasons, we've decided to leave a few areas grow wild again. The cost of gas for the tractor, my husband being injured, needing a new tractor...just to start the list. But, in spite of all these things, we still would have made the effort to get 'er done. Until.....
I convinced my husband that if we could only allow portions to grow wild, I could gather plants from the field to use for a variety of remedies and even food. I think it was a relief to everyone. Now the portion of the yard/field that we do mow is easier to handle, less expensive (gas) and time wise. We've found a young man to help with the harder jobs that the girls and I can't do easily. Less stress for everyone.
And my free ranging chickens love it! Now that the grasses are beginning to seed, they are in pastured heaven!
Here's a shot up our lane.
As neighbors and friends, who didn't understand our return to nature in this manicured neighborhood, offered to mow our grass, which was very kind and neighborly of them, we decided to make it look more intentional by trimming a broader border along the drive and tidying the edges of the unkempt areas creating "planned areas of wildness." The idea kinda goes against the original principle and is an oxymoron in my opinion but it does look more neat and we're still enjoying the wild harvest and cutting down on our work load, so, it's all good.
Plus, I've been wandering through the tall grass enjoying the gifts of wildness that are showing themselves as the season unfolds. I think it's time for another batch of wildcrafted, herbal salve. Or maybe a little chickweed salad! How about some steamed nettle greens? Or roasted dandelion root tea?
If you'd like to join me, sign up for the Herbal Medicine Chest 101 class. We'll be talking about some of these things and more. Email me for details.
This post has been shared with Jenny and friends @ Alphabe-Thursdays
and the folks @ Wildcrafting Wednesday
Much herbal love,