Why do older people like to cut grass so much,
the twenties-something girl wondered.
That is all my parents seem to do–cut the grass
and worry about cutting the grass.
There is so much more to do,
why spend so much time on this one thing?
I look out at my husband who is cutting the grass.
He spent the morning trimming with a weed trimmer.
He will spend the evening doing more trimming.
Now he is just cutting.
I suppose the girl is right: why do we spend so much time on grass?
Through her eyes, grass is not something important.
It should not take so much of our time.
I try to explain:
if the grass is not mowed, it grows tall. Weeds take over, go to seed.
Little tree seedlings will dig in, spread branches. Briars will ramble underfoot.
Snakes feel at home; ticks and other undersirables too.
The girl shrugs; she is not convinced.
I look out at our expanse of green, neatly trimmed flowerbeds and vegetable gardens
with their electric fences to keep the deer and rabbits at bay.
What does the girl know, after all,
tending to life’s unimportant issues–
cutting grass, fixing fence and pulling weeds are tasks to be done
and done again, and again, and again, with no thanks
and no reward except in the early mornings when we sit out on our porch
rocking gently and sipping coffee
and looking at this thing of beauty we created and maintain;
this little piece of the world that is ours,
where we can at least have some control,
and what we will one day pass on to others who might enjoy
the quiet lawn and abundant flowers and fruits of our labor.
It is this the tending of a piece of earth, the loving of the soil
that makes the country person stand aside from his urban counterpart.
Each creates art the other may not comprehend or appreciate-
one with concrete and glass and steel, the other
the humbler materials of earth, plant, water.
To the impatient young the slow building of a garden
is nothing compared to a soaring skyscaper, an arching bridge.
To the old it is the creation of a humble masterpiece,
their gift to God, small as it may be.
And that is why we cut the grass.