Aunt Ruth read SN&R’s feature story “Kill your lawn” a couple of weeks back and promptly went out and did just that. Strangled it with her own two hands, if you will, and—as of this writing—ripped out the old lawn and now sits uncomfortably, at least for the rest of the week, in the land of Middle-earth: Nothing within backyard eyesight is green. All is brown, rototilled dirt clod. It’s ugly back there and will be for a few more days until the native slurp-waterless plants can take their rightful place. Having done the right thing, Auntie Ruth would like to share.
For starters, dirt is … dirty. Dirt clods were more fun when Aunt Ruth was a kid: Throw them at the sidewalk, or your brother, and they shatter into really cool pieces. Small pleasures dissipate as middle age descends.
Secondly, while her research is well south of exhaustive, it seems true that the modern suburban canine finds peeing on dirt clods indelicate, and that dirt clods are generally unfit for walking, napping or ecstatic backside rollawrithing. Auntie’s dog wanders the backyard baffled, shooting looks at the house, “What is she thinking here?” Aunt Ruth is sure hers is an enviro dog, but the current geography is a little hard to explain.
Third, if you’re looking for a maven of the green correct, Aunt Ruth is no role model—she’s putting a little sod back into the mix, for the dog mostly. Vegetables will have to wait until new inspiration strikes, along with some new epiphanies regarding time management. But, yes, what was once a backyard of, oh, 90 percent lawn is now gonna be about 25 percent.
For this, Yer Auntie does not expect the Nobel Prize. However, if a mass-based environmental movement arises because together we made small enviro-minded changes in our daily lives, note this: There are rewards. They are small and fleeting, maybe, but tangible. Get a car that uses less gas. Work the bicycle into your daily transportation. Shop co-op with an eye out for organic this and natural that.
While the challenge of climate change is too important to be reduced to therapeutic back patting, Aunt Ruth would be a liar to say that these little psychic “ah” moments are not sweet or deserved. And may be necessary. The human animal being the frail thang she is. May the dog, similarly pampered, be in eventual agreement.