This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

May 16, 2001 - Lawncare? The Cool Confines of the Library Much Preferred

I recognize that there are people who love to be outside, love to dig their eager hands into the fertile ground, love to clip and prune and pull, love to plant and tend and fret over the earth's bounty.

I mean them no disrespect when I say that I am not one of them.

I'd like to say that it all goes back to having grown up doing yard work in the Midwest. It is certainly true that when I mowed the lawn back there, I faced harrowing enemies. For years I battled mutant weeds, weeds that sprang up some 4 feet in the span of an evening. I'm not kidding.

And there were ... chiggers.

Chiggers are all but invisible critters that, as you innocently mow the lawn, burrow into your skin. You find them along the line of your socks, along the edge of your waistband, at the very boundary of your clothes and decency. They eat into your flesh, dig deeper and deeper. They lay eggs inside you. The only cure I ever found was to dab a little nail polish at the entry point. Then they die, suffocated by your skin. Along the way, they cause you to itch. Oh, they itch.

Mowing the lawn in the Midwest was like offering yourself as a sacrifice to a particularly brutal race of tiny priests. You could spot the reluctant members of this religion by the angry red welts on their skin, the relentless scratching, the mumbled curses.

Here in Colorado, of course, yard work is not nearly so bad. I despise it nonetheless.

My avoidance of even modest lawn care is almost comical. In the summer, on the weekends, I wake in the cool morning and put off the mowing, the trimming, the raking and bagging and setting right. But it nags at me. I can't stand having it before me all day.

I put it off as long as possible. I have a leisurely breakfast. I read the paper. I play the piano.

Finally, usually at noon — the hottest hour of the day — I can stand it no more. I stumble into the heat and the glare. I toil for endless hours. At last, I collapse.

And for what? I haven't solved anything. It all still grows away, demanding even more toil and time.

Despite my efforts (or, more properly, because of my sullen and inept efforts), things never look quite right. I know that.

And, of course, there's the embarrassment. My neighbors. I'm so ashamed, I'm sure that when planes fly over from DIA, I'd be willing to bet that astonished captains call, "Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll just look over to your left, you'll see a yard that even from 1,000 feet, is a disgrace. On behalf of (insert airline name), we apologize."

I would, in fact, do almost anything rather than work on my yard. I would even sit and write a column, on a sunny, almost balmy, nearly perfect Sunday morning, than join the rest of you out there in your itchy, awful summer.

There are times — and the three months of summer do seem to be the perfect example of such a time — when the only sensible thing to do is to go to a nice, cool library.

There, any physical exertion — typing on a keyboard, raising an indolent arm to the shelves, turning the page, ever so delicately — is just somehow more sophisticated than the grunting and groaning that inevitably attend lawn care.

I say again, I have the deepest respect, gratitude, and something bordering on superstitious awe, for all those people who LIKE to look after their lawns.

My notion of an intelligent economy is one in which I can earn money doing the things I like to do, in order to pay people to do the things I abhor.

Alas, the tiny size of my lawn, and various other financial commitments, prevent me from hiring people to do the work for me. At the library, however, please note that all our lawns are tended by professionals.

Meanwhile, you'll find me, sitting inside, reading. I extend the offer to all of you with similar feelings, to please join me.

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