Unkempt lawn or mysterious jungle?

Child and a puppy in a garden
This is not a picture of me. I’m not a dog.

When I was a kid, my parents lived near a lovely couple with a large garden who rarely (possibly never) mowed their lawn. The result was a sprawling jungle of knee- or possibly thigh-high grass stalks, intermingled with daisies, dandelions, dock, clover, and ubiquitous bees.

In other words, paradise.

A bunch of neighbourhood children used to play there, and it never occurred to us that not everyone was equally delighted by the unmown lawn.

I went outside this afternoon to mow our grass, which has been rather neglected lately. (I won’t make excuses. It’s my grass and I can neglect it if I want.) I saw a mess of thigh-high rye grass, tangles of buttercups, and shrubs of red clover. I thought I should mow it so the pizza delivery guy doesn’t laugh at its lack of tending, and so the neighbours don’t get sneery because it’s devaluing their properties.

Very grown up thoughts. I was quite proud.

Pushing the mower around and choking it repeatedly with the long grass, I wondered when long grass stopped being a wondrous jungle full of tigers, pirates, and unicorns, and started being an eyesore.

A lawnmower or a dragon?
Just a lawnmower, or at night does it kidnap fair maidens and hold them captive in its mountain cave?

I prefer the way children view the world, without judgment or baggage, with imagination. Let’s go back.

Maybe the hose is a snake, the tree a kingdom in the air, and the picket fence is the only thing keeping witches out of the garden.

Don’t stand on the crack, or you might find yourself with a small, furry spouse.

Spurred on by this realisation and armed with a grass-eating dragon, I battled with my jungle. For a while I was winning. But my dragon got tired and the jungle was thick with vines and man-eating flowers.

After a valiant battle, my dragon and I retreated, leaving the rest of the jungle for another day. May the unicorns live long and undisturbed.

Long grass
The jungle lives another day.

What was wondrous when you were a child? What’s still wondrous now?

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Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

6 thoughts on “Unkempt lawn or mysterious jungle?”

  1. Imagining that you’re riding a grass-eating dragon definitely makes mowing the lawn more interesting. 😉 I like mundane tasks because I can just sink into an imaginary world while my body is on autopilot and takes care of the chores. But also I end up in a world of my own when I’m walking somewhere and embarrassingly often I end up someplace other than intended. I’m happily watching an alien space rodeo in my head and all of a sudden find myself at the post office when I meant to go to the pharmacy. It’s also wondrous that I haven’t been driven over, considering how much I daydream while navigating traffic.

    1. Autopilot is a wonderful thing, but as you say, sometimes leads to unfortunate consequences (hopefully not of the getting run over type, because that would be bad).

      I’ve never watched an alien space rodeo, but now I really want to. I tend to just daydream about my WIP, figuring out how things fit together, constructing conversations between my characters, and then I realise someone’s been talking to me for ten minutes and I haven’t heard a word of it.

  2. You sound like a fantasy writer 🙂 My husband likes a mowed lawn even though ours is a muddy, weedy, mossy disaster. I’ve tried to talk him in letting it grow into a meadow and he’s not going for it. No imagination!

    1. Why, thank you. 🙂

      We’re pretty much the opposite. My husband prefers a wild lawn, which is his excuse for never having mown a lawn in his life. I’d never say I like a neat lawn, but by the time the grass comes over my knees I feel like I might be doing something wrong.

      When I was a kid I actually thought that if you never mowed the grass would just keep growing and would eventually turn into a forest. If that were true I really never would mow.

  3. As adults our lives are so crowded with “adulting” we can overlook the simple beauty and wonder around us. I love the idea of taking time to appreciate what we used to find wonderful, or things we would otherwise overlook.

    I love the wilderness, and nature in general. It’s always been wondrous to me and still is!

    A well-mowed lawn might look better, but how often have you found a fairy kingdom in a well-mowed?

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