Instructor’s comment: This student worked hard to forge a straightforward journalistic style that was supple enough to accommodate moments of poetic perception. This essay is a beautiful piece. Written with hard-won simplicity, it’s alive with images, and brimming with information about the possibilities of front-yard gardening.
They were out there almost every day. Not always the same ones. Once, a line of preschoolers came by. Holding hands in twos, name tags swinging from bright bits of yarn, they stopped and turned with military precision. Wide-eyed, they peered through the bars of the wrought iron fence to watch.
This time, I looked up to see a mom and two little girls. I was pruning the lavender. “Hi! What’s this spiky green stuff? Look, little blue flowers!” As I broke off a prickly, pungent sprig of rosemary and held it out to them, I had to smile. I’d made a lot of friends while working this bit of ground. I was about to make three more.
My front-yard garden didn’t grow friendships in the beginning. I still hear the disbelieving voices of my neighbors, on the day I marched out to do murder with a pitchfork and shovel. “You’re going to do what? Take out the lawn!”
The Lawn: icon of gracious living, verdant goddess of suburban virtue. Gardeners pay weekly homage to it. Teen-age sons are indentured to it. Nothing spells success quite so well as that unwalkable surface of emerald velvet fronting a house. The lawn marks the difference between Us and Them. What would happen to a nice neighborhood if someone just up and decided to rip out the front lawn?
Questions hung in the pale winter sunshine. My neighbors eyed me, wincing each time a shovel full ...
... middle of paper ...
... Some came to ask for cuttings. They made their own changes. A lavender border edged a drive. A waterfall of prostrate rosemary cascaded from a planter box.
Ideas blossomed from such small changes. Xeriscaping was becoming popular. Three more people actually removed their turf. In one drought-tolerant planting, a dry creek of river-rock wound its way through native perennials. Another front garden featured an old-fashioned wood glider-swing under a vine-covered trellis.
My own garden continued to flourish. The neighbors came often. Smiles had replaced their worried frowns. Bob tumbled the walls of Jericho one morning when he brought his granddaughter to see the hummingbirds. Tiny Sarah said her first word there. “Kitty,” she pronounced. She stroked a furry leaf of peppermint geranium and nodded, brown curls bobbing. Laughing, she repeated, “Kitty.”
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