Monday, September 1, 2014

When Life Mows it Down

The vacant house down the block became a source of wonder for us this summer. While other neighbors shook their heads with mild annoyance, we watched the
perpetually abandoned, un-mowed front lawn grow lusher, taller and more wild, with a little thrill. A sense of vicarious rebellion grew in my heart as I watched the wildness unfurl in the middle of my otherwise-orderly street.

The tiny square of grass became a field of weeds and flowers, reaching for the sun with utter abandon. If we squinted and only focused on that small patch, we could pretend we were on a sunlit mountainside, or a prairie filled with wildflowers, instead of being squarely placed in a lattice of perfect rectangular suburban lots. It was a feeling of freedom in a life that can sometimes feel tight and boxed-in.

Maybe it's silly, but the lawn-gone-rogue sparked our imaginations. We walked by it, we picked flowers. The tall grasses made us smile. With each passing day, the 'weed violation' sign that persisted was more hopelessly buried within the flowing long grasses, futile. I secretly hoped that we'd go the entire summer without a single person concerned enough to deal with the overgrown yard.

After weeks of admiring the mini-wild-field, the inevitable happened. One morning I walked out and glanced over, uttering a soft 'oh' of disappointment. I had not noticed who did it or when, but the field was gone, the beautiful wilderness ruthlessly shorn, leaving a shocking emptiness. Fun while it lasted, the little rebellious yard was cut down to size.

Despite the way the newly-cut lawn seemed to stick out like a bad haircut, I'm not one to be disappointed for long. I took Noah down a couple of days later to take a closer look. The grass had grown so long that when they butchered it, mini mountains were left along the edges. The grass was quickly drying out into big piles of brown. It hit me...brown! We needed brown materials for our compost like you would not believe. Greens-nitrogen- for the compost are easy for us to come across, but browns-carbon- can be more challenging.

So we headed down later with our trusty plastic wagon, and stacked it high with precious carbon to bring home to our compost piles.

What fed our hearts and imagination earlier in the summer would now feed our compost pile, which will ultimately feed our gardens. In the end, our outlaw wildflower field will feed us.

*Edited to note: After publishing this post, I wondered; "Is dried grass really a brown, or is it still a nitrogen-rich green?" Turns out, I'm not the first to wonder. A google search turned up answers going both ways. More than likely, dried grass is NOT a brown because it's still very nitrogen rich. Some sources said if the grasses had already gone to seed and had started to turn brown before being cut down, it would contain a higher carbon content than if cut down while green. It's hard to know for sure, but more than likely, we ended up with more 'greens' for our pile.

Well, at any rate, our dried goodies that we collected are still great for the compost...we just have to make sure we stock up on the dried leaves in the coming months for our carbon shortage. ;)


  1. Awesome! Thanks for writing this. It's very touching and inspires me to look at things differently.

  2. Excellent post. I really enjoy reading and also appreciate your work about grubs in grass. This concept is a good way to enhance knowledge. Keep sharing this kind of articles, Thank you.