Water over the lawn

So with the chances appearing excellent for a summer of brush fires, dry creeks, and a whole lot of dire drought news—Lake Mead becoming Lake Mud, fire season now from Super Bowl to Christmas, multi-state aquarium ban—I thought I would share a story of water. Lots of water. From a place far, far away.

Two years ago, I was in Ohio, in the Toledo area. They'd just had a very wet winter, loaded with rain and snow. Spring had been stormy, too. In fact, the locals were sick of it. Like this year. As we drove around between Toledo and Cleveland, just below Lake Erie, I began to notice the lawns. The area was fairly rural, so there were no sidewalks, and every house was on a parcel of decent size, from a quarter acre to a full acre. And every one of 'em had a lawn to friggin' die for. Dark green grass, thick and full, nothing even approaching a bare spot. If you looked up “lawn” in the dictionary—there ya go. You just knew the guy who sold and repaired riding mowers was probably doing very, very well for himself. Riding mowers must be to Ohioans what ear plugs are to bass players.

I was on a bus on some tour for the day. We were in Ohio for this remarkable bird festival, an event that is becoming to birders what Burning Man is to transgender dahlia growers. And beside me was a local, an old lady of about 70. Old ladies are usually very pleasant to talk to, if they're not batshit from dementia, and this gal was no exception. We got to talking about these obviously superb lawns, and she said, “Yes, Ohio certainly was a place of nice grass.” I asked how often people had to water these lawns to keep them so splendid, and she replied that most years, they don't. Come again? “No, most years, the lawns are fine until July, maybe August, Then we might water them a little. But usually, the thunderstorms take care of the lawns.” Gee. What a concept. You know—rain and stuff.

She could sense she had a desert boy in her clutches, and she moved in for the knockout punch. “You know, recently, our mayor asked if we would run our hoses a bit. The storms from the last few months have caused the water table to rise so high, we've got to lighten it up a bit.” My mind kinda glazed over. “What do you mean, you've got to run your hoses?” “Oh, you know, they ask us to wash the car or rinse off the driveway, whatever we can do to relieve the water table. It's getting kind of swampy.”

So fantasize about that—a municipal request to waste water. Yes, this really happened. I'm pretty sure. Or maybe it was all … a dream? All I know is, those people back there in Toledo can't xeriscape worth shit.