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michael pollan

High Line Gets a Haircut

“If lawn mowing feels like copying the same sentence over and over, gardening is like writing out new ones, an infinitely variable process of invention and discovery.” — Michael Pollan, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

I’ve been waiting for this moment: the sound of the screeching lawn mower, right here in the middle of Manhattan.

The grass has been getting awfully long down there on the High Line and last week I found myself muttering (like a restless housewife) “they better get that lawn cut…” In fact the fellow with the mower did struggle today; he kept having to stop his work to clear big, wet clumps of grass from both the lawn and his machine, stuffing them in a burlap bag before moving on to the next row. But this young fella had good manners: he shut down the machine every time he had to pause, then cranked it back up when he was ready to continue, thus sparing us all unnecessary noise and fumes.

I would have been happier with a grove of birch or flowering fruit trees down there. A lawn seems so pedestrian compared to the glorious diversity of plants in the rest of the park. But that grass is gorgeous and thick, and it’ll give me pleasure — a small blast from the country — to hear the mowing and the weedwhacking each week.  And the smell of cut grass is a mighty fine accompaniment to a hot cup of Lapsang Suchong in the morning.

I know why Michael Pollan ended his argument about lawns with this sentiment: “Yes, there might well be a place for a small lawn in my new garden.”

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