Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Lawn

This summer has been brutal on my lawn: the lack of rain, extended days with record-breaking heat, and watering restrictions put in force by the city have turned my once lush, green yard into a field of tawny scrub grass. Not that I am alone in this, as most of the country is experiencing conditions not seen since the Dust Bowl or days of the Dirty Thirties. Understanding my predicament does not diminish my feeling of loss; however, I hear the forecast for the next several days will be pushing the upper 90s.

I have been taking care of my lawn since I was 14. It was early May several years ago, and I was sitting on the front stoop with my dad, admiring our neighbor's lawn. Earlier we had moved into a brand new house with nothing for a yard but graded top soil. Our neighbor moved in the same week we did. As soon as the weather broke, the soil was raked, seeded and watered. Dad and the neighbor planted the same seed.

However, as we sat there we couldn't help but notice the neighbor's grass was growing in more lush and green than ours. As the sun started to set, our neighbor came over and sat with us a while. Dad offered him a beer, and we began a discussion about lawns.

As the fireflies began their nightly dance, dad remarked how he didn't have the time it took to coax out a beautiful lawn. Then our neighbor said something that changed my life, "Why don't you give the kid the lawn? Let him take ownership. You give him the materials; I'll teach him what to do, but it will be his responsibility: his lawn."

From that day forward I cut, trimmed, fed and watered my grass. The goal was to have the best (or second-best) lawn on the block.

From that day until now I still find great pleasure working in my yard. Such was the power of giving a 14-year-old boy responsibility -- and not just responsibility -- ownership. Dad may have thought he was getting his son involved in taking care of the grass, but he gave me a whole lot more. He gave me pride of accomplishment, lessons in stewardship, and a sense of striving for something bigger than myself. My neighbor taught me about lawns, but he also taught me the importance of an adult mentor. All these lessons have stayed with me ever since.

Men, what will you give your sons and daughters -- or your neighbor's sons and daughters?

No comments :