When I lived in Barrow, fixing up my yard for spring meant removing all the debris that had accumulated over the winter and been hidden by the snow. My yard was considered finished when everything had been neatly piled onto wooden pallets to keep it all from rotting.
It’s not as though I ever planned to throw any of that stuff out. You never knew when a friend would need a part for something mechanical and/or motorized. There was always the chance that part could be found in the pile of rubble so neatly aligned each spring. A yard cleared of all leftover parts from various unrecognizable sources was considered suspect at best, the sign of a true cheechako at worst.
As for a lawn…well, over the 13 years I lived in a borough rental, I watched the tundra slowly reclaim a small portion of the earth that was right outside of my living room window. The rest of the yard around my house had been ground rather relentlessly into hard packed dirt from which little would ever again spring.
But this one little strip had heart. It refused to give in to the machinations of man. By my 10th year in that house, it had developed into what I considered a fine patch of tundra that was my very own.
Apparently, this semblance of a lawn annoyed someone with access to heavy duty equipment. Perhaps it was the idea that nature dared to think she could take over from man’s destruction and create something green again. Whatever the motivation, the result was that one day a loader came to my house and dumped an enormous quantity of dirt over my little plot of green. Then another big machine came by and compacted that dirt down till the tiniest of molecules would have had trouble surviving.
When I got to Anchorage and bought a house with a yard, I assumed the yard would take care of itself as did the one in Barrow. Once a year I would make a general sweep of any debris and then I would sit back, sip iced tea and watch nature do its thing.
I lived in this fantasy world until the day I mentioned to my friend that I had the prettiest flowers all over my yard. She informed me that they weren’t flowers. They were, in fact, dandelions.
Now, I’ve got to tell you that I don’t really understand the difference between a dandelion and a flower except that dandelions are a lot more versatile. You not only get a pretty yellow bloom out of it, but you get both a great salad and a great wine. So I have to ask myself, what is this snobbishness about dandelions that seems so prevalent here in the urban world.
I’d like to know just who decided dandelions were weeds. I say they are wildflowers and should be appreciated for the early, middle and late summer bloom they bring to our lives. I say we should applaud the ability of these spunky little misfits to meet so many of our needs in such a simple form. They provide beauty, food and drink. And all they ask is for us to let them have a little piece of the earth to call their own.
Well, I for one am here to tell you that I checked on the amount of effort I would have to expend to actually have a lawn in my yard and, given the answer I received, I am more than happy to give up my little piece of the earth to these underappreciated blooms of beauty.
Now you’ll have to excuse me. I need to get back to my iced tea.