It’s been interesting following the great Auckland berm debate. To mow or not to mow. The argument seems to come down to this:
*The council owns the berms, so they should mow them. Isn’t that one of the things we’re paying rates for?
*It’s a small patch of grass outside everyone’s house that makes the street look good. Show some civic pride, stop whining and mow the thing.
But this summary fails to convey the vehemence bordering on outrage that seems to characterise most of the letters to the papers. Proponents on both sides of the berm are incensed!
Our daily walk suggests that most of the berms in posh Herne Bay – as one might expect – are being mowed by the householders. One must, at all cost, keep up appearances. But a few stout souls have resolutely refused to conform. I’m with them. But I’m also with house-proud Judy who refuses to see us shamed in the district and mows the berm herself while I mow the large lawn at the back of our property and trim the hedges.
My objection is not to the berms per se, but to grass itself. Grass, in my philosophy, is good for feeding animals but nothing else. That was of course its original purpose – grazing livestock. But then some smart aleck in the middle ages noticed that when the animals had cropped the pasture it looked quite nice and a primitive version of the lawn was born. ‘How many times do I have to ask you to go and scythe that pasture?’ wives would complain to their husbands before the lawnmower was invented in 1840. It was the beginning of the grass scourge that would plague mankind (meaning men) from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day.
Grass is now everywhere – on berms, lawns, village greens, playing fields. And wherever grass is, it must be mowed. And it must be mowed regularly. And there will be no end to its mowing. Grass is forever and ever, amen.
Some people have built a hugely expensive house in a street near us. But what is an expensive house without an expensive lawn? So they got the ‘ready-lawn’ people to roll out a lawn at the front, side and rear of their new home. I don’t think they watered the lawn enough, because it looks brown now and is full of weeds. They must be very upset. Grass can be vengeful when it feels neglected.
A friend of ours discovered a firm that sows grass on a bed of wool. He complained to us that the grass, which was admittedly very green, looked patchy and was pulling away at the edges. Since I know nothing about grass, I thought I should give him some advice. He shouldn’t cut the grass so low until it was well established. It was probably an American invention and the Americans let their lawns grow very high.
He took my advice and the lawn looks great, but he’s still not happy. He keeps pulling at bits of the grass to see if it will come away.
I heard a story that some years ago The Warehouse imported some lawnmowers from the States. Customers almost immediately started bringing them back. Their lowest height setting was apparently 3 inches. You might still be able to get one second-hand on Trade Me. Ideal for berms, I would have thought.
I realise that I’m rambling now. The real purpose of this post was to curse the inventor of grass as a decoration. You have been responsible for untold human suffering which, until this post, has remained untold. Your invention has spawned the push mower, which makes a pretty summer sound, but wrecks the backs of men, and the motor-mower which pollutes the air with fumes and noise, and the weed-eater which pollutes the air with fumes and noise and never works for more than 30 seconds before the line jams, and the leaf blower which blows the mown grass from here to there and destroys the peace and leads to madness.
Lay concrete and, if you must, paint it green. The world will be a happier place.