Saturday, June 30, 2007

Going Yard
Hired a couple of kids to mow the small lawn I've got in front of my house. These are guys I saw tooling around the neighborhood on their bikes the day I arrived—in fact, they offered their lawn-care services right then and there. I told them I'd get back to them. Today, I saw them riding by and I yelled out that I thought my lawn needed a trimming. The lanky one of the two said, "Yeah, I'd say it's beginning to look a bit tropical."

That was Josh, maybe 13. His sidekick is Brandon, whom I'm guessing checks in at 10. Befitting his elder status, Josh is the "manager of the lawn mower," except when it comes time to push it across the lawn, at which time Brandon is called to the fore. But if the little guy runs into a gnarly, knobby spot, Josh jumps in. I offered them five bucks for the job, which took them all of 15 minutes (including 5 minutes to get the mower over here). Turned out I didn't have 5-even on me, so I gave them a 20 and contracted for three more mows, every two weeks or so. I like stoking the fires of young entrepreneurs. I'll just assume the money isn't going for beer or tobacco.

A word about Portland lawns: I don't get them. They all suck. I'm wondering if this is a nature thing and just the way lawns grow up here, or if there's a law, or if it's by informal agreement or peer pressure (among the citizenry, not the blades of grass). In my short time in town I've walked and run through the tending-toward-hoity neighborhood of Laurelhurst, as well as the nice, dependable neighborhood Mount Tabor and several, shall we say, more mixed areas, including my humble 'hood. I've driven about a bit. I have seen exactly one well-trimmed, wholly green lawn of the sort that is standard-issue in California, the so-called Golden State. (I'm not talking about the less common but still plentiful lush, rich, deeply green spreads that suck up an acre-foot of water every summer month. Just your standard decent lawn.) Here, they're mostly brown and scruffy; you find some splotches of green, particularly around the edges, but even a cursory examination reveals that's just weeds. Dandelions abound. This doesn't bother me, mind you. In fact, it's great—it'll be no problem keeping my lawn looking just as "nice" as the neighbors'. Heck, after Josh and Brandon's work, I'm probably the shining star on this stretch of Hoyt Street. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. In the end, this might be the answer.

3 comments:

Dan Brekke said...

I've got a guilty relationship with the grass growing on our property. It's not the best use of our precious water to dump it on the lawn; but I have to admit I like having the thing look like someone cares whether it's alive or dead.

Pete said...

In all honesty, I'm all for a small patch of green. Not acres, but a tiny fraction of the master's domain. And we (me here in Portland, you down there in Berkeley) are not in places so dry that a lawn is a moral transgression--as compared to, say, San Diego, Tucson or El Paso. A lawn is a nice thing to look at, and to walk upon, particularly in bare feet in the evening of a warm day with a beer or glass of wine in hand while young people scamper about and the radio broadcast of a ballgame can be heard in the background.

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