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Retro Redux: The Grass Is Not Always Greener

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It has always tickled me to observe how my mind reacts when I hear a piece of music, because it seldom takes a predictable route. At first I might be just enjoying the music while thinking about the performer or possibly the song itself, but then inevitably my thoughts drift into distant territory.

Here's an example. I was recently listening to a recording of Tom Jones singing one of his best-known pieces, "Green, Green Grass Of Home," a tune that's been recorded by about a zillion singers. It's pretty famously known as a mournful lament from a death-row inmate, but when I hear it my thoughts turn to — grass. And I don't mean the kind you smoke.

Grass is not my favorite thing. Truth be told, I've always had a real distaste for yard work. I have vivid memories of my days as a sullen teenager, completely convinced that I had something better to do with my time than spending it pushing that old hand mower through the grass. Of course my dad thought otherwise, and he was right even if I didn't think so at the time.

When I became an adult with my own lawn to worry about, I still hated the job and couldn't wait until my own kids got old enough to take over. But I'm sure it wouldn't surprise you to hear that I soon found that history was repeating itself, except that this time I was the nagging dad.

In recent years, I've hired a guy to come and cut my grass, but I'm still not spending a lot of time worrying about it. For example, I probably don't call him to come and cut it as often as I should, and I consider anything extra – such as fertilizer, reseeding, etc – to be an unnecessary frill, so the weeds have slowly taken over. And I'll even admit that I like it when we have a dry spell because the lawn slows down and stops growing.

My next-door neighbor is my exact opposite. His lawn is always immaculate, and is reminiscent of the greens on a golf course. He works in his yard constantly, and I swear I've seen him on his hands and knees with clippers, trimming every little blade. That being the case, you might wonder how he's handled living next door to me and having to look at my scruffy lawn. Simple — he built a tall privacy fence between us.

But back to that song. It just occurred to me that it really doesn't apply to my lawn. If a death-row inmate was singing about my yard – unlikely, but for the sake of argument let's say he is – the tune would have to be retitled, "Brown, Brown Weeds Of Home."

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