Friday, April 07, 2006

New York, New York

Many years ago, when I was a shift supervisor at a manufacturing company, a group of us headed to the local watering hole for an after-the-work-week drink. We were assigned to evening shift, so we got to the bar around twelve-thirty in the morning, which feels just like five-thirty in the afternoon to anyone on nights. And, like the song says, “It’s five o’clock somewhere” so why not partake?

The bar was packed with the typical Friday night crowd and the din of a hundred different but simultaneous conversations flooded the place. It was so loud, my colleagues and I strained to hear our own conversation. The juke box was playing something, but who could hear over all that noise?

Until Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” hit the airwaves. This all occurred in Connecticut, which is close to New York, and a small enough state to be considered a New York suburb. Whatever the alliance, a few people started to sing along. Then a few more, and then, more still. All conversations ceased and soon the whole bar was singing along to every verse of “New York, New York” including my friends, and even me. We were all especially vigorous on the chorus. Or maybe it just seemed that way because, even if you don’t know the rest of words, anybody can belt out the name of the song.

No matter what our backgrounds, no matter what our cares, our worries, our own individual triumphs or failures, for three minutes and twenty-eight seconds we were simply one very loud voice in that bar that night. Singing along with Old Blue Eyes just as if we were the best of friends.

Once the song ended, the cacophony started in again as if nothing had happened. Now I know that what went on in the bar that night was no different than what occurs in countless other places all across the world on any given night. We start out as individuals, find some common thread to unite us, then promptly forget all about it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lawn Care

I once read that a weed is simply a flower whose beauty has not yet been realized. If that's true, then my front yard is the most misunderstood piece of property in the area.

In my zeal for curb appeal, I've tried most every brand of commercial fertilizer and weed inhibitor approved for residential use. I even thought about renting a crop duster once, but that seemed like overkill. I've reseeded, overseeded, watered and nurtured my lawn (lawn being liberally defined here) to try and establish more understood grasses that would stifle the growth of those pesky weeds. Instead, I got more pesky weeds.

After a decade of unsuccessful lawn care, I finally realized I had fought the encroachment of misunderstood flowers for far too long. A couple of years ago, I stopped buying fertilizers and grass seed in favor of a more rustic frame for the front of my house. And the results have been phenomenal.

If I look outside right now, my lawn is a patchwork quilt of purple henbit and yellow dandelions, which is great, really, because it's almost Easter and purple and yellow are seasonal colors. I've got some green mixed in there, too - some of it in the form of real grass - so the whole front yard is like peering into the bottom of a five thousand square foot Easter basket. Not everyone in my neighborhood is lucky enough to have that.

Plus, the money I've diverted from the purchase of lawn care chemicals was invested - in a new set of golf clubs. And the time freed up from playing in my lawn is now better spent playing on fairway lawns and smooth greens.

I've come to believe we should look at our lawns with the childlike wonder we brought into this world. Children know the benefits of a dandelion. They appreciate the beauty of the flower, not the weed. A child will pluck a few and bring them to her mother as a present from nature. Or they'll take great joy in blowing the white dandelion seeds to the winds, thereby propagating the species and ensuring there are many more dandelion delights in the days ahead.

Yep, I take immense pride in knowing I am ahead of my time. I'm taking that childlike wonder of my youth and realizing the beauty of the flowers growing among the sparse grasses of my front yard. What wonder, what contentment, what freedom.

I wonder if my neighbors look at it the same way?