In the Land of Consumption

In the Land of Consumption May 14, 2008

It is springtime, but instead of the sweet smell of grass and the twitter of birds my senses are being assaulted — by landscapers! We live on a block with small yards, perhaps 200 square feet or less, and yet every day a huge truck with a trailer of equipment pulls up in front of one of my neighbors’ homes. Out of the truck pour 4 or more men with various gas-powered equipment, including ride on mowers, trimmers, blowers, and clippers, and for the next two hours the yards are manicured. The noise is deafening — when this is going on in the yards directly adjacent to mine it wakes the baby from his nap and sometimes even shakes my house. Still worse, the smell of gas makes me mildly nauseous. On special days the flower beds are also treated to new mulch or fertilizer, and that smell lingers for a few days. There are special pesticide treatments, and men come around to open up the automatic sprinkler systems that will water these patches of grass all summer.

This is my first time ever living in the suburbs, and I guess I was wrong to look forward to a quiet, country spring. I had no idea what was involved in keeping up appearances, but particularly in this economy and with what we are learning about the impact on our environment, I have to say, I find myself disgusted.

I grew up in the city with a small backyard. Most of it was flagstone patio, but the surrounding beds were maintained by my parents. Each spring, I remember enjoying a special time with my mom when my dad came home with flats of pansies and we could dig with kitchen spoons to plant then in our window boxes.

Next year, I will own a home far from the city, with a yard substantially larger than any on the suburban block where we live right now. Perhaps we will have a high school boy come once a week to mow the lawn, to free up my husband’s limited free time for family activities, but other than that I hope that we will maintain our property ourselves. Frankly, we are going to have to, which leads to my next question — how are people paying for this?
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