Around this time of the year, when there’s still frost on the outdoor dog in the morning and air conditioners run like a spider-chased schoolgirl in the afternoon, I like to venture down to the Lawn & Garden department at the local Sow ‘em & Grow ‘em Store. People who should never own fertilizer are wandering past the bags of peat moss, clutching pots of distressed dahlias, and murmuring, “Wonder if I need manure?”
It’s like Disneyland for clueless people.
All I want is a bird feeder. Winter and fat Cardinals have not been kind to the little plastic number that hung in my yard all winter, and I need someplace to leave the offerings for the sparrows that exercise the dogs by flitting around just out of Labrador reach.
Here in the South, whimsical lawn ornaments are popular among the population. By whimsical, I mean ugly and offensive. By population, I mean my neighbor (you know who you are, Danny) who used to borrow a goat the last week of every month so that he didn’t have to cut the two square inches of grass that grew beside his cultivated kudzu patch.
My other neighbor has a patch of lawn decorated by a wishing well, two wooden farmer misses bending over to show polka dot bloomers, a bevy of plastic geese, and a charming white toilet holding a cluster of cheerful daffodils. These folks may have lawn furniture in the family room, but the porcelain in the front yard holds a place of honor.
Driving back home with my tiny plastic birdfeeder, I can’t help but think about my own yard. I won’t feel comfortable calling it a lawn until there is something growing in it that didn't spring spontaneously to life over the septic tank. Algae doesn’t count as lawn, even the easy-care kind.
I guess everybody celebrates Spring in their own fashion. In Augusta, the Masters has acres of azaleas, not far away the peach trees are beginning to bud. But in my little corner of the country--just below the Bible Belt and just above the Sweet Tea Bag; we take pride in our pottied plants.