I Love Me Some Grass


If you’re like me, you’re enjoying the final glory days of a nice, green lawn. The current heat wave and lack of rain will surely have our yards as crispy as hash browns from the back of the griddle by the end of July.

We got a couple of extra weeks of barefoot-friendly lushness this year, it seems, from the heavy rains of early June. And what a glorious lawn year it’s been. With each mowing I’ve set the mower a notch higher, trying to give the grass a fighting chance to hold the moisture from our decrepit sprinkler system. So far so good, although these weirdo fairy rings and renegade mushroom formations are kind of creeping me out. Who the hell knows what’s going on beneath that thirsty root system? Has Hell sprung a leak?

I did all the right things to ensure a green lawn payoff. I applied weed ‘n feed in the fall, then again in the spring. Yeah, I know it’s not environmentally pure and dolphin-safe and all that. But at least it’s not that horrible toxic goo they spray from the back of that military-grade tanker truck you see working the neighborhoods every spring. Imagine getting some of that gunk on you. What do you think happened to the Incredible Hulk? Toxic radiation? Nope. He fell into a vat of Nitro-Green.


A pointless battle in the war of attrition.

So I get these bags of weed ‘n feed. I don’t know what’s in that stuff, but I suspect it’s part nitrogen, part dandelion seeds, and part mosquito larvae. All I know is, it works. After the sopping rains of June, our yard greened up and started growing as relentlessly as toe fungus.

We mowed, we trimmed, we cut back the bushes, trying to maximize the square footage of usable yard. The dog loved it: hey, there’s a sector I have not yet covered with poop! Huge squadrons of robins yanked worms from the yard every morning. I took a pair of scissors to my Texas Washers court, trimming those cups like a Glee actress preparing for an Esquire photo shoot. Bring it, summer.

My backyard is my sanctuary. Especially if I leave the phone inside. I spend as much time out there as I can, digging the absolute peak time of living in Missoula. The promise of summer in Montana is the only thing that keeps me from killing myself during winter in Montana.

There are still a few minor annoyances with our lawn. We live on a hillside, which means that the entire property is on a slope. That makes all the normal backyard style games like badminton and volleyball kind of a challenge. Bocce? It’s like shooting pool on the Titanic.


“Hey, Moe! Can’t ya hit me? I’m right here? What are ya, blind? Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

Oddly, though, our backyard features one dead-level section of yard that is the result of a swimming pool that was filled in decades before we bought the house. The competition for the use of this fabulous, almost thistle-free slab of green is fierce. The kids want to put a trampoline there. Barb wants to stage garden parties on it. I want to set up a tent there and move in for the summer. Perhaps be a volunteer fire watcher.

The grass is healthiest on the flat part of yard because it can retain water. The rest of our property must have been built over a bed of Turtle Waxed marble, because no matter how much water we put on the lawn, it flows downhill and we can’t satisfy the grass. I can actually see water seeping out of the yard at the street, and trickling away down the gutter while l hear the tiny, strangled screams of millions of blades of grass dying of thirst.

Here at the south end of Missoula there is a tremendous demand for water, and our 40-year-old sprinkler system was installed back before everybody in the neighborhood had a Slip-N-Slide going all day long in the summer. And people washing their Suburbans in the driveway. And people filling up above-ground pools. And backyard fountain systems. And people using the double rinse cycle to wash the clothing of little kids who don’t know a Slip-N-Slide from a toilet. And construction workers drinking from hoses. Those damned construction workers!

At any rate, watering the lawn every other day isn’t enough to satisfy the grass. Even watering every day probably is not enough (I’ve tried it. Don’t worry, I nailed up an extra set of address numbers on the house to make it legal). I’m merely delaying the inevitable by bothering to water it at all. To gauge the amount of green lawn summer you have left in your own yard, just look to Mount Sentinel. It’s a perfect lawn barometer because it’s the first thing to turn brown around here. And sometimes it’s also the first thing that catches on fire. (I’m looking at you, neighborhood punks with a phone book and a Bic lighter. Why don’t you find something else to fill your summer days? Like putting up a Slip-N-Slide.)

My advice to you is to get out there and enjoy that nice, green grass while you can. Better yet, hit one of Missoula’s parks and frolic barefoot to your heart’s content. Just keep your eyes open. I might be there. With my dog.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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