Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Alien invasion

I don't like to put chemicals on my lawn. There are enough chemicals poisoning the soil and getting into our systems through the junk we eat. Our house's previous owner used Chemlawn religiously, and it was two or three years after we took ownership for the ants and the earthworms to return. Before that, it was hard, sterile soil that could barely be broken with a shovel. A lot of backyard wildlife that many people consider pests are actually very good for the health of your lawn. As for weeds...well, some of them are downright pretty.


I used to like clover. Countless hours of my childhood were spent searching for elusive four-leaf clovers. They blossom first yellow, then snow-white, and gradually fade to purples and reds as the summer heat arrives. They attract crickets, one of my favorite insects.

But Oh. My. Gods. do they spread! We've just come in from weeding the gardens, and I took it upon myself to pull up at least some of the clover overgrowth. Partially because I don't like chemicalizing my lawn, and partially because I enjoy a bit of metitative manual labor now and then, I sat down in the grass and began to trace and pull each clover runner. I can lose myself for hours at such occupations. I love seeking things out, discovering and following new leads. Such activities also help occupy the chatty surface of my mind and allow my deeper thought processes to work undisturbed. This is why Buddhists like to chant "Om". It means "yes", but with repetition, the word ceases to have any meaning, and the monkey-mind surface of your brain gives up and stops trying to talk back, and finally you're able to think!

Anyway, it occured to me as I pulled clover runner after runner, leaving vast bald patches where the grass had been choked out*, that grass is actually a non-indigenous plant. In any wild field you come across, there are all sorts of vegetation mixed together, almost none of it this uniformly green, evenly spaced stuff we cover our yards with. A few years ago, we built a new, larger garage, on the other side of the yard. It necessitated tearing up pretty much the entire yard and reseeding it with grass. I know we didn't plant any clover, nor was there any in the rest of the yard when we did this. And it made me wonder, as my butt formed a large depression in the lawn and tiny bugs fled from the barren soil I had exposed, maybe grass is the alien species, and clover the native plant attempting to reclaim its turf.

* I am fairly certain that H.R. Giger, upon weeding the clover from his yard and seeing the mats of overlapping tendrils weaving in and out of the soil, tangled like mating pythons, derived most of his artistic inspiration from it.


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