The Green, Green Grass, by Rich Paschall
Rusty liked to get out and walk around the neighborhood. It was a pleasant community with quaint old houses. In fact, some of the houses were over one hundred years old, as were the trees planted in front of them. Many homes were kept in fine condition by their owners, while others showed the sad effects of the many years they had been standing. Rusty always spotted something new or different to enjoy during his walks. One thing he could usually count on, as he strolled down Wallace Street on a weekend, was the presence of one particular old timer tending to his yard.
“Good morning, Mr. Wilkins,” Rusty exclaimed as he came upon the old house with a grand porch and nice lawn. “The grass is looking very good this Spring.”
“Thanks, my friend,” Mr. Wilkins replied. Everyone Mr. Wilkins addressed was “my friend” or “neighbor” or perhaps “sir” or “ma’am.” Mr. Wilkins was very bad at remembering names no matter how often he heard them. He was usually just fixated on the care of the old house and his beautiful lawn.
“I must say, Mr. Wilkins, I am surprised you are still at it. I thought you mentioned a dozen years ago that you would give this all up and retire to a warmer climate where there would be no lawn care.”
That is exactly what Mr. Wilkins had said. He told many people that. He wanted to retire to a nice area where a lawn service would take care of all the outside surroundings. He wanted to relax in his old age and pursue his favorite hobbies. He wanted to read more books, watch more sports and visit more museums and art galleries. In his mind, he could envision a life different from the one he had for many years. Nevertheless, he was still active in the same tasks that had now filled decades of his life.
“Yes, that was my plan, but as I approached retirement age I found I could not retire. There just is not enough money there if I should live a long life. I guess I will have to work as long as I can, then hope for the best. I don’t think I will ever leave here.”
“Well, I guess I am sorry to hear it Mr. Wilkins, but you should feel good about this grand old house. I believe your hard work had paid off. You have a lovely yard and a beautiful porch from which to admire it.”
“Thank you, neighbor,” Mr. Wilkins responded with a tone of true gratitude. Complements on the lawn were always well received. “There are some in the neighborhood with perfect lawns. They have thick green grass and not a weed in sight. I often wonder how they do it. I hope I have such a lawn before my time is up.”
“This looks like the year of the perfect lawn, Mr Wilkins. Now don’t work too hard. This is the time to enjoy life. Have a nice day.” Rusty was off on his neighborhood journey.
Mr. Wilkins spent the Spring and early summer in pursuit of his favorite hobby, the lawn and garden. His grass got the spring “weed and feed.” He had tried various products over the years in search of the one with the best result. A few bare spots got extra attention as Mr. Wilkins got down to loosen the dirt and then sprinkle his favorite grass seed.
Mother Nature cooperated with Mr. Wilkins like she had never done before. The rain held off when certain products needed to be applied in dry weather. The showers came when the seeds needed it and the grass required moisture. Everything was coming along as Mr. Wilkins had always dreamed.
One day in early summer, Rusty was wondering down Wallace Street during his usual walk around the neighborhood. “Good morning, Mr. Wilkins. How are you this morning?”
“I am doing quite well,” the old-timer lied. “How are you?”
Mr. Wilkins was tired, very tired. He was pushing himself to do the things that came easy in past years. He desperately wanted to do all the chores he felt were necessary to have a fine lawn and beautiful porch. The work did not come without great effort.
“I am enjoying my walk past the many nice homes,” Rusty explained. “I must compliment you on the nice flowers and exceptional lawn. I think this is not only your best one yet, but perhaps the best one in the neighborhood. I should know. I have seen them all”
“Thank you so much, my friend. I am so happy to hear it,” Mr. Wilkins stated with a great deal of pride. “I believe the weather has been a big help this year.”
“I am sure your hard work had everything to do with it. Well, enjoy your fine yard and don’t work too hard anymore.” At that, Rusty wandered away and left Mr. Wilkins beaming with pride.
With complete satisfaction at his front lawn and neat row of flowers, Mr. Wilkins gathered up his gardening tools and headed back behind the house. There he set down his garden implements and just admired the lawn.
“After all these years,” he said to himself, “I finally have a beautiful lawn. I wonder what brought it to me this year.”
As the sun was warm and the lawn was lush and inviting, Mr. Wilkins decided to lie down on the green, green grass where he drifted off peacefully.
No one found him until the next day.