Saturday, September 22, 2012

Splendor in the Grass


I've been reading End of Summer essays from my friends these past few weeks. Some are travelogues, some are passages of sorrow, some have an air of disappointment (slash boredom), some are painted with colorful adventures.

Me? I had perhaps the most liberating summer of my life. I'm sifting through my reasons for not writing it all down (I started with this.) Sometimes these huge moments come with so much story, I wonder if it's best to let them simmer? See how the meat boils as it separates from the sauce?

My family and I, we traveled a lot, spent most of July absent from our Retro House passing in airplanes and our car from one state to another. Still I think my entire summer can be best told in contents of my backyard. Specifically, the grass.

Chup and I freely argue, debate and hotly converse, but nothing causes more contention in our marriage than lawn care. I like a regularly manicured lawn, void of weeds and shrubs that prick my baby's toes. But Chup could stand a little bit longer grass and sometimes I wonder if he even notices the weeds. And though we've tried to knock out gender-specific tasks in our marriage, I don't cut the lawn. Chup doesn't vacuum, I don't cut the lawn. Blessedly for our marriage, our neighbor's twenty-something shirtless son weekly cuts the grass on our front lawn, completely gratuit. We keep talking about getting him a gift certificate to Outback, or some place twenty-somethings eat these days. Then I refer to my Elderly Mormon Persona who says, "A weekly service project is good for the boy!"

With our front yard in good hands, Chup's domestic landscaping opportunity falls to the back of the house where we've got a sizable yard in the shape of an upside down Utah--outlined by a wonderful, old brick wall. Earlier in the year Chup tended to the plot, fertilizing it, asking for the grand exodus of dandelions and adjusting the sprinkler system to appease any thirsty parts. By June the foliage looked lush and emerald, gorgeous actually. I started to think it would be a shame to cut it at all.

So we didn't cut the grass (except once, early on). We let it grow wild all summer long. And it grew and grew and grew.

One day my brother Jesse came to visit, a lawn-care hobbiest in his own right. He looked out on our field of sorts and said to me, "Aren't you afraid of snakes hiding in the grass?"

"I've thought about our grass attracting snakes, but I don't fear them." I said.

When the August sun rolled it's away across the sky, we spent most of our hot nights outdoors in that tall grass, the children never worried about prickly pieces underneath the fir trees and the extra padding about their feet made them daring. One time a little neighbor friend fell out off the swing set--about five feet down--and landed in a pile of swirling grass. It was like watching a tow-headed angel fall from heaven and onto a puff of clouds. When she landed she rolled over and started belly laughing, causing us watchful adults to let out a huge withheld breath.



And now, here's September and the light is leaving me. Summer is over, officially, and fall is taking over it's annual responsibilities. I goout every single day to make an afternoon nest of the tall grass and lie in it. No blanket, my skin touching as much of the nature as possible, I sing to the sun and pray to Heavenly Father for the sunshine to sink all the way in, past my skin, soaking my soul. The grass is now so long it's gone to seed.

The thing I noticed about me, about this summer, about that grass as it grew wild in the sun is this: what may look wild and untethered can actually be the very breath of obedience. Sometimes God just wants us to grow lush until we too, go to seed, replicate ourselves, scatter and store up more roots through the winter onto next spring, when the light finds us again.

All summer long, I never once found a snake.