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Practicing zen and the art of lawn maintenance

I'm not exactly a yard guy. I know I've mentioned that before, but now, on the cusp of summer, seems like a good time to reiterate the point. OK, it's also a good time to aerate, but I'm not even going there.

Basically, the only thing I do in my yard is keep the grass mowed. And I don't even do that myself. That's why I had three sons, spaced well apart.

My oldest son started mowing the yard regularly about 10 years ago. If his youngest brother, now 11, doesn't move out until he's at least 18, that means I won't have had to cut grass for 17 years.

Is there a lazy man's hall of fame?

I'm not sure what I'll do when that last son leaves home, though. I'm considering adoption, though hiring my own full-time gardener might be cheaper.

I've also benefited from a rather liberal definition of grass as "something green that grows in my yard." Bermuda, fescue, monkey, crab - it's all grass to me. Keep it cut and no one can tell the difference, except maybe the woman from the Architectural Review Committee who walks her dog five times a day and reports on the color of people's flowerpots.

That philosophy has spared me a great deal of work over the years. While the neighbors plant grass seed, spread fertilizer, and pull "weeds," I use that time for other, more leisurely activities, such as hauling my kids back and forth from their activities six nights a week.

True, this approach may have made me unpopular in certain circles. There's definitely some yard snobbery in my neighborhood. I think the biggest snobs, though, the ones who spend the most time in their yards, probably don't have children. Why else would they do all the work themselves?

I read recently that you shouldn't judge a person because of a messy car. In the frenetic pace of our lives, something has to give. The same could probably be said of a person's yard. For that matter, my yard actually looks better than my car.

All jokes aside, I have done more yard work than usual this spring, in anticipation, perhaps, of a neighborhood petition drive.

For one thing, this past weekend I actually had to cut the grass, because my middle son said he wasn't feeling well. I'm pretty sure he was faking, but the neurosurgeon disagreed.

And my youngest son isn't quite old enough yet, although I certainly considered him. I imagine he felt a little like Hansel as I stroked my chin and eyed him contemplatively.

After I was done mowing, much to everyone's surprise, I even fertilized. It was a poor grade of fertilizer, but I spread it pretty thick.

In fact, given my new-found skill, I'm thinking of running for Congress - if the ARC doesn't get me first.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.