A Wilderness of Dandelions

FullSizeRenderWashington, D.C. is tough on lawns. Ours would seem easy enough to care for — it’s only twelve by sixteen feet — but the winter taxes the grass with a few good freezings. In the spring, the ground explodes with life, and any clumps of grass thas survived the winter are swallowed by creepers or die in the shadow of towering, ambitious weeds.

And they wonder why there’s so few grassroots movements in the nation’s capital.

Last year, with Dubsie in the picture, we took a drastic step. We had some guys install a fake lawn. “Install” is the right word; it was actually nailed into place, on top of thick layers of sand and gravel that are supposed to defeat even the crabgrass.

Now, after weathering the coldest and most brutal winter of our six years here, we go out there every evening we can. (“Outside??” Dubsie reminds us again and again. “¿Afuera?“) Two lawn chairs are perched on our new, narrow flagstone patio. Dubsie tools around with a blue medicine ball and her Kettler tricycle. Whenever a stroller or dog appears she she rushes to the cast-iron fence, which also forms a psychological barrier against the neighborhood drunks.

Let’s call this lawn what it is. It’s astroturf. But I do appreciate stepping outside at the end of a workday and not extricating Dubsie from puddles and nettles.

When Dubsie is feeling brave she ventures into the neighbors’ yard. By mid-April it is crisscrossed by menacing gangs of clover. She makes her way slowly, picking the heads off a couple of dandelions and wending her way over to a little boulder that sits right at the edge of the lot, by the fence, just at the corner of the street, where she commands a view of all the taxis and bicycles and homeboys and gay couples that come from any of four directions.

She sits there quietly, almost contemplatively, on her rock island amid the roughage. It is her first solo wilderness experience.


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