This is my front lawn. I’m letting it die.
Northern California is dry. Actually, so’s the whole state, but that’s a lot of acreage and I can only talk about the part I know.
We began drought-level water restrictions this month. We must cut usage 36% from 2013. A pretty precise requirement. Outdoor irrigation in my water district, Mondays and Fridays only. OK then.
While I want to keep my garden — the California natives under the oak, butterfly habitat, dogwoods — I don’t really mind giving up the lawn. This seems like a good way to publicly support the drought restrictions, and blades of grass are the archetypal fungible entity, after all.
But I do mind the sense of foreboding with which we now regard the weather. Do you remember when we talked about it blandly? When politics, sex, and religion were forbidden? No more, in either case.
Of course, our current discomfort is mostly and rightly about climate change. But leaving that aside for the moment, I miss weather naivetë overall. The days when you didn’t know what was coming, or just how much rain had fallen in Delaware.
When I was young, I thought the California summer coursed through my veins. The blue sky, yellow hills, gray brown baked clay dirt. The stuff of myth. My first year at Princeton, I didn’t mind the cold. You just put on more clothes – not too different from winter rains at home. But the heat and humidity? How to feel free in the world when moving makes you sweat?
Nowadays we’ve weather stations, and numbers, and radar, at our fingertips. Ah well. Something lost and something, we hope, gained. Maybe I surrender my lawn, someone else survives a hurricane.
My son and I have talked about weather innocence. Even he, at 25, feels the loss. Optimistically, I hope technology comes to our rescue soon. And beyond technology, I suppose I’ll carve out, somewhere inside, a space where the land and its ways are still a mystery.
Have a wonderful weekend. Let’s never lose hope.