The green, green grass of home

 In Facing Reality, SHIFT

On a recent car trip across country I caught myself gushing upon leaving Iowa, “I don’t think I’m ready to leave this country. It is healing to see so much green.” It felt so true.

At various points of my life I have verbalized that it is the sight of trees that give me peace and settle my mind. Even though I do enjoy the profound beauty of aspen changing colors and snow on bare branches, I realize that it is the abundance of green and not just trees that I find therapeutic.

As we crossed Iowa the last week of July, the fields were resplendent in more shades of green than I can label. The crisp green of the swaying corn gives way to an almost blue-green clumpy sorghum field.

The wide variety of hardwoods – including oaks and hickory – spread their rich leaves to line the fields and flow into clusters around the many creeks and lakes. The big farmhouses are nestled in the center of the lush fields with satellite barns and silos in this circle of structures. After drinking in the mile after mile of rolling emerald, I was sad at the prospect of leaving such healing country. Why do I appreciate Iowa’s panorama so much?

I know that the greenery of my own grounds back in California equals much of that I have enjoyed on this trip. I think the difference is that the luxurious green of Iowa seems to burst forth from the earth, while I know the growth in my yard comes with much coaxing and cultivating. It doesn’t seem fair that I have to work so hard to wrench green from my unyielding hard pan when there are such places that seem to flourish without man’s effort.

I am brought back to reality, however, when I remember that volunteer growth is not all good. We have had a wet winter and have found ourselves fighting growth of things that we have never seen on our property. The designated garden, cultivated after three years of lying fallow, brought forth weeds in every hue of my beloved green. As I have fought for my tomato and strawberry plants against overwhelming odds, I hone in closer on what upsets me about other people’s greenness.

I am okay that I have to put in so much effort, while also being concerned about the availability of water and the condition of soil. I am not even concerned that I tend to lose the battle in the Great Weed War. What is bothersome is not having things growing just where I want them and nowhere else. What I find most soothing is seeing things flourishing that I chose in the places I designated with clear-cut lines between.

I guess the Iowa farmer might envy my usual problem of how to fill my empty dirt with splashes of green. They must have to spend a lot of energy cutting back all the volunteer growth so they can grow the crop of choice. They get so much rainfall there that they even have to worry about timing harvests to avoid crops rotting in the field.

Funny. The grass may be greener on the other side, but it is probably crab grass that someone has to pull out. I think I can stick with what I have.

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