Chewings

Joe had long legs for his height. His stride matched that of his dad, who was a good four inches taller. He walked a straight course across the lawn, slowly. His right hand kept in sync with the step as he cranked the handle of a green plastic broadcaster. Grass seed spun out evenly from the small opening.

“Looking good,” Audrey said. She waited for a response, then saw his earbuds. He must be walking in time to the music. When he turned and faced in her direction, she gave him a thumb’s up. At least she got him to smile. Halfway.

She picked up the plastic seed bag. Seemed like it had a lot of writing for something so uncomplicated. She remembered having gone to the nursery with her father to buy large brown sacks marked “grass seed.” There might’ve been some lawn lingo in the corner telling what kind of seed it was, and somebody might’ve written the price on the bag with a pen, and that was about it.

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

New! Ultra! Revolutionary! Could grass be revolutionary? Grass in the ’60s had been pretty revolutionary. This grass came with proper names. Perennial rye wasn’t just perennial rye, it was Radiant II and Line Drive and Barclay. The rest was Italian rye (which sounded more like bread), Kentucky bluegrass, creeping red fescue and chewings fescue. Chewings?

“I read the instructions,” Joe said.

Audrey looked up. “Good.”

“So you don’t have to check to see if I screwed up.”

“What? Why would I do that?”

Joe shrugged. “’Cause you don’t trust me?”

“Oh, come on,” Audrey said. “I’m learning all about grass here. Did you know each one of these little guys has a name?”

“No.”

She picked up a seed. “This one’s named Barclay. And according to the package, he’s a revolutionary.'”

“Revolutionary, huh? Should we be worried about a turf war?”

“Nah,” she said. “As long as we don’t give them deadly weapons. There’s no poison in the mix, is there? No pesticide, no weed killer?”

“No.”

“That’s good.” Audrey plucked a handful of fresh dandelion leaves out of the grass. She popped the smallest one into her mouth. “Mmm, nice and tangy. Great in salads.”

Joe gave her the other half of his smile. “Good job, mom.”

“You too, Joe. And not just the reseeding.” Emboldened, she ate two larger leaves. The more she chewed, the bigger Joe’s smile got. “Joe, your dad and I, we were—mmm, boy—we were thinking about our wills—”

“Can we talk about this later? I gotta finish,” Joe said, and put the earbuds back in his ears. As he resumed broadcasting the rest of the seed, Audrey ducked under the dogwood tree and spit out the leaves.

Joe cooked dinner that night. His mother’s plunge into bitter greens inspired him to make linguine with spring vegetables and spinach-dandelion pesto. The subject of the wills never did come up, but it was on everyone’s mind.

©2010 Pam Wells

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