The World Beneath my Feet

It has been a wet June, and somewhat cold too after a warm dry May. Yesterday I rushed out and mowed the lawn aware of an impending rainstorm. My timing – albeit prompted by my wife’s observation of the light’s shift– was exquisite. The heavens opened just as I put away the lawnmower. Our lawn these days is rich in colour and complicated in content. “Weed and Feed” and such were outlawed a few years back, and so folk have the option of hiring lawn professionals (who can still use such products), or going au naturel, or converting grass to something else: a rock garden, a perennial bed, etc. Ours is a rather large lawn and so the conversion option is not so very attractive. We are not inclined to go with lawn professionals, and so wild is our style.

Our lawn gets a little more interesting each year. It hosts many sorts of plants, including grass. From a distance it looks a lovely green of various hues. Up close the breadth of selection is staggering. I generally like this, and am very happy with what must be a small wild strawberry that grows below the generous height I have set my lawn-mower. It begins with a lovely, tiny butter yellow flower that turns into a rock hard red fruit that is utterly inedible. From my perspective, its value is all in the beauty it brings to the lay of the lawn. Last year, a pretty little purple flower came along as well. I cheered it on, of course. But in due course I realized that it was strangling everything. It didn’t play well with others, and so I pushed back. This year it pops up here and there and I round it up with my hand rather than “ “Round Up.” Clover spots the lawn, and feeds the rabbits, and there are the odd dandelions that I did not dig up manually in the spring. I leave them be until next spring.

As you can tell from the above, I know my lawn a bit better than I did, say five years ago, when we would fertilize and apply herbicides in the spring and cut like crazy through the summer. Now I wander around, with my eyes on the ground wondering what I might find in this microcosm of multiculturalism. Scientists tell us that diversity is the building block of a healthy eco-system. That seems sound, as long as that diversity is ready to push back when certain species have “monoculture” as their watch word. Social scientist tells us that diversity is also the mark of a healthy culture, where room is made for the many or few who are different from the rest. That Christian sage of old seemed to have this in mind when he compared the church to a body, a harmony of disparate parts needing a diversity ordered to the common good of all.

Dealing with diversity in human community, however, is frightening. We imagine that if others look like us they will think like us and then all will be well. This, of course, is one way we put our heads in the sand. The pathway of the common good does not demand everyone look the same, or say the same thing, or even believe the same way. Common good comes from good community where people take time to be with one another, to find out what it is that divides and unites us, and to respect the difference and the distance we all need. In this week of national celebrations north and south of the border, we do well to recall that we all need one another because we can only be individuals together.

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4 thoughts on “The World Beneath my Feet

  1. shoreacres says:

    This is a wise post. There has been a certain triumphalism abroad in the land this week, which does nothing except divide people from one another even more firmly. Beyond that, the desperate irony of people on Tiwtter using the #LoveWins hashtag while they savage their “opponents” in the crudest, most vulgar, and often violent terms, isn’t healthy. There’s a reason the phrase “twitter mob” has entered the vocabulary.

    As for the Confederacy and its flag, the mob mentality is obvious there, too. Should the Confederate flag be flying over a Statehouse, or other governmental buildings? I don’t think so. Should the film “Gone With the Wind” be banned, or authors who have used a Confederate flag on the cover of their book be forced to change? Of course not.

    I appreciated what you have to say about your lawn as lawn, too. Monocultures aren’t natural, and often become vulnerable in a way healthy diversity prevents. It’s a lesson we need to learn, in a multitude of ways.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Happy July 4 to you! Just off the boat now and looking at my lawn again after seeing a bit more bird than lawn diversity. i agree that triumphalism in any guise is dangerous at best. I remember reading once about a liberal-fundamentalism (many years ago), and it has really changed the way I few speech from both sides on any debate. An important lesson in life, I think.

  2. diannegray says:

    I also have a diverse lawn, Allen and I love the way you relate this to society. Very clever indeed. And I’m glad you managed to get the mower in before it rained, I need to learn that skill 😉

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