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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Patriotic Prose

It’s an odd thing that distance gives clarity. Being in Iraq during such tumultuous times, I suspected my literary inclinations to be directed at bombs exploding in Baghdad or the romantic landscapes surrounding Soran. Instead, distance has become an expansive lens through which I see the nation of my citizenship.  With this lens looming about, causal reflections focus into the detailed and distant, so that one promenade through an Iraqi neighborhood revealed a truth as to an unregistered, albeit truly American activity occurring in American neighborhoods.  But, before progressing, I encourage the reader to take note of the acrobatic eagle, who, spread and stamped on the U.S. seal, firmly grips a clipped olive branch inside resolute talons.  With this reference, I only hope to introduce the idea that yard work and proper pruning were always tallies for patriotism, and, while the reader may be prepared to interpret the stunning coordination of our Nation’s bird symbolically, it is reasonable to surmise, given the bird’s predatory history, that the raptor has an affinity for well-trimmed shrubbery more than anything else.  So, as I stepped through the Iraqi neighborhood, catching glimpse of concrete and tiled courtyards, I recalled, with uncanny clarity, a common scene that shapes the green space resting in front of American homes.  Chlorophyll clots plastered on a mower’s modern edges and verdant stains on sneakers testify the grandeur of this scene; a citizen is mowing the lawn.

It had been two weeks since the lawn was last snipped, yet, somehow, three people in the house claim they mowed the lawn last week.  Although if household activities are measured with a common currency, one person may have innocently confused their nightly dish washing for a mow and their protestations shouldn't raise acquisitions of immortality.  Regardless, the uneven growth of grass is throwing the yard into a visual disequilibrium that, at a certain length, will continuing growing onto the family crest, so that lions and shields will be pricked by nettles and weeds.  Inevitably the Toro or Deere will be taken out and tasked with giving Mother Nature a buzz.   

Strident pushes swell muscles to thoughts of bravado, and gas fumes intoxicate the mower with accomplishment, usually, far before completion—a dangerous temptation spoken in monologue as “You’ve done a phenomenal job. You can finish the rest tomorrow.”

Who doesn't pace during calamities or at crossroads?   Now see that the mower’s course is that of a dizzying pace on a grand pitch, where trivial thoughts roll and layer into thick potentates, dictating the next line or life decision.  Many life changing decisions were resolved at the mower’s helm.

Take the angle which is readily available for the modern mind, the satellite view, and zoom in on the yard undergoing the relevant transformation.  The mower’s clamorous course finds a harmony as parallels expand into a grand staff ledger. The mower, a moving note, makes a melody and the sonorous crash of horsepower slowly vibrates into a patriotic prelude echoing Copland’s brassy blessings.  Return to the ground. 

Complementing this activity is the most perfect time of day.  Summer’s slanted rays give admirable length to blades of grass, shooting golden shadows across the lawn.  The evening’s soft light dilates pupils and vision is heightened into a psychedelic state; the evening’s work will be surveyed with great detail and appreciation. 

This harvest of leaves of grass leaks an unnatural evening dew and calm repast issues from wounded grasslings.  


Any person who has mowed has earned their keep. 

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