Cate and I have made a couple of very conscious choices in how we have constructed our lives. Much of it has to do with stressing time over wealth. I’m a teacher for a lot of reasons, but one of them is certainly that it gives me more time to spend with my family.
Another choice we have made is to pay attention to our environmental impact.
Our yard is not pretty. Oh, it’s not hideous or anything, I doubt very seriously you’d remark upon it if you were to drive past, but it isn’t the pristine green sheet that so many of our neighbors have. There are reasons for this. I have a reel mower instead of a powered motor. I don’t have a weed-eater (though I’ve borrowed one a few times when things got really out of hand). I don’t use pesticides or fertilizers or even water on my lawn.
So there are weeds. In the spring, the yard is alight with dandelions. The grass is uneven because the mower doesn’t deal well with bumps. The edges of flower beds and sidewalks are a little taller than I’d like. In August, things can get a bit brown. I’ve seen the neighbors glance unhappily around more than once.
The backyard is little different. We have a garden there. It is surrounded by chicken wire to keep the dog out. I have a few genuine metal stakes, but I also use branches that have fallen into the yard from our and the neighbor’s maple trees. I hone a point with a good sharp knife and shove them into the ground. I use these same branches to stake our tomatoes. I would never claim it’s pretty. it certainly isn’t uniform.
But I don’t care.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to meet since we had children is to always try and do things in a way I can justify to them. Sure, we could have a gas-powered mower. But it would be loud. It would pollute. It would be more expensive to run. The lawn would get done faster, but the kids couldn’t be outside playing while I mowed like they can now. I’d need ear plugs with a power mower, but with a reel mower, I can talk to Cate while I mow. So the yard isn’t quite as perfect. Who cares about perfect? If I had my way, I’d probably fill it with wildflowers and let it go. At least I’m not doing active harm this way.
Same with the garden. I could buy stakes. I could use herbicides instead of getting on my hands and knees to pull weeds. It would be easier. It would be more expensive. It would also be worse for the world in every way.
I try to be deliberate about how I use my time and resources. I doubt my neighbors understand, but I’m fine as long as children do.