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Thursday, March 21, 2002
It occurs to me that if a picture is worth a thousand words, this one ought to be valued at a buck ninety five:

Yeah, that's the imfamous Darlington campsite in all its' regal glory. Home of the unwashed, the unshaven, the overfed. Did I mention we had bacon and eggs every morning and some wonderful Andoulle sausage to boot? I'll let you decipher the major players, I was at least smart enough to be the one taking the picture. You know, for the sake of impartiality and all.

Okay, enough, I'm really done this time.


No more racing stuff.

Not until Richmond Speedweek, anyway. And that's not 'til May.

Of course, in this race shortened week, I feel the lure of my anti-gardening instincts coming on.

Lawrence the neighbor is out cutting his grass with impunity, hurtling shards of green over his fescued and highly manicured lawn. Makes me sick, it does.

When I first moved into this house it was a showplace for things green and growing. The lawn was a statement of de-thatched, fertilized and pampered grass with a cross-hatched mowing pattern to boot. It scared me to death. The maniac who owned it previously had a cushy night job as a pharmacist, and he indulged his daytime freedom of labor into the lawn, which was the envy of not only our block but succeeding blocks for the whole city.

In other words, the sumbitch set me up and I was destined to fail.

For about a year I kept up with it. Due mostly to his previous efforts, the grass bloomed green and tall with nary a weed, and I dutifully threshed it every weekend. Adding fertilizer? Nah. I was strictly a cut man, winding a willing John Deere mower over the acreage, a beer in one hand and a straw hat on the lid.

Well, now then.

Come to find out that in order to keep this sort of pristine astroturf you must be willing to not only invest a modicum of time, but a good bit of money as well. Bags full of chemical goodness. Seed. Water, and a whole lot of it, and delivered in precise and well timed increments.

Not for me. I'm strictly of the pave-it-over brand of gardener.

So. What I wind up with is a motley patch of dormant grass and wildly growing, foot tall tufts of stuff that only a Gurnsey could appreciate. I delegate the actual cutting of grass to the fourteen year old and he saunters forth, hacks it down, and returns with a leisurely puttering mower and an outstreched hand, which signals me to extract another 5 bucks from my already smoldering wallet and place it in his expectant palm.

All the while Lawrence and my other neighbor look askance at the once verdant plain which surrounds my house and separates it from their more lush pastureland, complete with seasonal foilage and neatly edged curblines. They are patient, they are kind, but no matter. I can see it in the increasingly sharp and pointed comments that fly over the fence each succeeding spring.

"Uh, need a little seed to get you started, there? Why, I can remember when (insert name of former homeowner) used to stand out here at twilight watering the flower beds. Quite the picture. He was a real green thumb, he was."

Yeah. A green thumb and a man with all the time in the world. Which I'm not. Just getting the fourteen year old geared up to mow the grass can be quite a challenge. You need gas in the can. Proper oil in the mower. A sharp blade. All of this taxes me and causes creases in my already furrowed and aging brow. Not to mention getting the five bucks lined up.

But. I have a plan. When I'm ready to sell this place in a few years. Yes. The deed will be done. The man with the rolls of grass sod will be summoned with his big truck and his backhoe. Strip off the yellowing mass that calls itself a lawn and carpet it with lush new stuff. 12 hours to a new and happy turf. Hopefully, the neighbors won't be home that day and I can just suprise them with my new vigilance toward civic awareness.

I mean, if you're gong to throw money at a yard why not do it all at once?

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