Our lawn is like Charlton Heston’s gun.
I’ll give it up when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Everywhere you turn these days, lawns are taking heat in one fit of drought-shaming after another. Brown is the new green. Let the grass die. Decorate your property with dirt piles and tumbleweeds. Don’t you know the true California look is a classic Dust Bowl circa 1930?
These days, you say you want to lay down a patch of turf and people look at you as though you just suggested strip mining the backyard and pumping toxic sludge into the nearest creek.
We have a nice lawn. It’s a good size. OK, it’s big. The high school football team could run two-a-days on it. Maybe it’s not that big.
We planted it 10 years ago in the heady days before the housing bubble burst, a year when rain was falling almost as fast as home values were rising.
That year, so much water dropped out of the sky that we had a small stream running across the yard and had to put in special pipes just make it go under instead of through.
On that saturated surface, we dug a bunch of nicely spaced holes and put in many drought-tolerant, California-native plants on drip lines.
But along with that responsible landscaping, we also planted grass — luxurious, soft grass, like the outfield at Dodger Stadium. Here’s why:
You can’t teach a kid to field ground balls on a bed of rosemary and ceanothus. Too many bad hops.
You can’t have a water balloon fight in a garden of rose bushes. How do you hit your target when the balloons keep popping on thorns?
And you can’t have a picnic or stretch out on your back and point out cloud bunnies if you have to lie on the Santa Barbara daisies. It kills them.
Other interested parties, we would come to learn, also had specific intentions for the lawn. The dogs needed a cushy place to poop, because God knows they can’t be bothered to go out in that spacious surrounding half-acre of weeds.
And we had many families of gophers to feed. Seems that rolling out the emerald carpet was akin to ringing the dinner bell. They came streaming out of their tunnels on the hill like a bunch of starving marauders.
So, you can see how vital the lawn is to the Joetopia ecosystem.
If we dug it all up, what would I do with all the leisurely hours I now spend digging in the dirt, placing traps and setting smoke bombs? You wouldn’t want to rob me of that pleasure, would you?
So, yeah, we love our lawn, and no measly 48 straight months of drought is going to convince us otherwise.
All of that being said, we aren’t actually second cousins to Daddy Warbucks, so the economic impact of paying bushels of money for extra water does hit home.
And if there’s one green thing I hate to lose more than grass, it’s cash. Just ask Mr. Big Seventh-Grader, who inherited his dad’s frugal ways and has saved a wad of bills large enough to dislocate a hip. Getting a dollar out of that roll is like trying to get me to say something nice about Republicans.
So, money’s on the line, and as a result, we are dutifully following the governor’s mandate. We’re only watering twice a week, and we’ve reduced our use by more than 25 percent.
The water bill is reasonable, and although the grass looks like a pock-marked mortar range in places, it will survive until these ghastly dry days have passed.
The forecasters already guaranteed it, right? El Niño’s like a 99.9 percent sure thing this winter.
Not that we’ll return to excessive lawn watering, but it won’t stay this bad forever.
Some day, the rain will fall once more, like silver from heaven.
The gophers, kids, dogs and I are counting on it.