front lawns and offerings

Our front lawn was finally mowed yesterday after a couple of months of being too waterlogged for our electric mower. It’s amazing how much more ~respectable~ our house looks now from the outside, it felt like such a relief? And then immediately this weird relief turned into guilt for me. I started thinking about how weird the western culture of lawns really is, and then realised that something so basic should have crossed my mind before, but somehow it never has.

Lawns are such weird spaces. Who are they for exactly?? Unless you use your lawn to grow flowers or vegetables or something, it really has no private use, except as a kind of unfair (and incorrect) signal of what kind of house you keep. I’m reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma at the moment, and read this part in it last night, which talks about the nominal piece of grass outside the doors of a chicken factory shed, that has to be there in order for that chicken meat to be labeled as free-range. The fact that the chickens never use it doesn’t matter:

“I finally had to conclude that Rosie the free-range chicken doesn’t really grok the whole free-range conceit. The space that has been provided to her for that purpose is, I realized, not unlike the typical American front lawn it resembles – it’s a kind of ritual space, intended not so much for the use of the local residents as a symbolic offering to the larger community.”

We don’t use our front lawn for anything, except storing our recycling bins behind a big bush/s that acts like a picket fence, and my Dad also keeps his car trailer there, with the oar boat on it. Also, a part of our front lawn has been filled with concrete, for parking purposes. Oh and our mail box is there too. So actually quite a lot seems to happen, but these are just such passive uses of a relatively large space of land.

I’ve just been googling some stuff about front lawns and grass and came across this. Like… that’s actually despicable. The opposition put up to this woman was legit insane.

I really want to make better use of this front lawn space somehow, but don’t have a concrete idea yet of what I will do. And not just better use, but somehow a more individual use, tailored for our family, not just as a public “offering” to the neighbourhood or any passers-by.

Last year, when the retaining wall in our back garden was being fixed, nearly the entire yard was dug over. It was only then, while looking at the giant mound of earth that I realised for the first time that we live on clay soil. I took some pretty large chunks of that clay and they’re still waiting for me to process them. This will be a real DIY effort because I’ve never done anything like it, and it has an extremely large chance of failing, but anyway, I think I may use this clay to make something for the front lawn. An offering from its sibling, the back yard.

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