Is It Wrong For A Man To Cry As He Cuts His Grass?
Part of getting old means getting soft.
Not just that part of you that dribbles over your belt when you sit behind the wheel, but the connective tissue between your ears. That thing called your brain.
I've noticed that I've gotten a lot softer as I've grown out of my cynical 30's and 40's and hit the big 5-0...oh, trust me, my crop of cynicism is going to be a bumper one again in 2007 as I survey the political landscape, pop culture, contemporary music and the media. That said, I can still be reduced to a snivel by a sappy commercial or a well-intended-but-heretofore-corny greeting card.
Which leads me to a plot of grass.
It's by far my biggest accomplishment of the summer--a 15 foot square swath of green that sits just outside my living room window toward the back of my lot. As the rest of my lawn went into a draught-induced slumber this summer, one little patch flourished. I planted it just as the abundant rains that pelted our region petered out in late spring, and watered it meticulously each day after. It came from those funky bags of seed mixed with mysterious green stuff and someone's old newspapers, but damn if it didn't take root.
And, damn if it doesn't make my eyes well up every time I pass over it with my mower.
It's the former home of my kids' "Star Tower".
What, you ask, is a Star Tower? It was a beast--standing at least 15 feet tall with a rope staircase, climbing bars, and a giant twisting plastic tube slide. It was our backyard playground, and a source of constant entertainment for my kids when they were still into "Sesame Street". We'd spend hours back there chasing each other around. My daughter would use it's tented, second story hideaway as a place to either read, escape, or pout, depending on the mood in the house nearby.
Time passed, the kids grew and the Star Tower went to seed--the rope ladder sported several sprung rungs, the weeds were beating out the cedar chips on the ground and weather was taking it's toll on the once sturdy wood frame. The kids no longer were intrigued by it--moving on to middle school friends, cable t-v and Ipods. It was becoming a liability to the younger neighbor children who would try to use it, and an executive decision had to be made: the Star Tower must go.
Go it did, to friends of friends who had a fresh batch of appreciative kids just dying to find out what a refurbished Star Tower could do. The escapes it held. The adventure it contained. The hiding places. The laughs.
They hauled it away--free to a good home, leaving behind an empty patch of weeds and cedar chips. Last year's play spot is this year's household project.
I raked up the chips--and bawled.
I planted the new grass--with watery eyes.
And now, I cut the new grass, proud that it took but sad about how it got here.
Kids grow. Times change. Fun is had in different ways. The Star Tower gives way to other enthusiasms: a shared movie or t-t-v show. A long, sincere talk. An intense political discussion. Heartfelt advice.
Kids grow, and so do their needs. So do parents, although it sometimes comes a little grudgingly.
And, sometimes, with a newly cultivated, tear-inducing patch of grass.