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 23, 2001

May 23, 2001 - Backyard Growth Overwhelming

Well, I've gotten a flood of mail about my previous column concerning my utterly incompetent lawn care. I'm gratified to report that I am not alone.

A sample: "If it weren't for neighbors, I wouldn't cut my grass at all." This is the observation of an honest man.

Another: "We bulldoze the land, already teeming with native life. We impose the landscape of Back East. Then we dump toxic chemicals onto the transposed, mismatched flora to kill all the things that grow here naturally. For God's sake, why?"

I especially enjoyed the tale of a lawyer in Urbana, Illinois who let his grass grow so long that he secured Wildlife Preserve Status for his front yard. Brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?

To be fair, I also heard from people who violently disagreed with me. One patron e-mailed, "Just because I love the library doesn't mean I'm clueless about looking after my yard. The whole reason I came to the library was to learn to be a better gardener. You might try that yourself."

Fair enough. I have (I sincerely hope) my modest talents. And then, I have my manifold defects. I certainly don't mean to suggest that because otherwise innocent Douglas County patrons share my passions, they must also share my dysfunctions.

If you are able to both admire the library, and maintain a trophy lawn, then I applaud you. I mean it.

You have uncovered the great truth of libraries: we help you do the things you want to do, as expertly as your character allows. If your character extends to creating exquisite islands of suburban beauty, you have earned my deepest gratitude, and, surely, that of many others.

But that doesn't change the awful truth. Any plant that comes into the zone of my personal care is on death row. Unless, that is, it's a weed, in which case I shower it, all unwillingly, with everything it needs to thrive. If, one day, an irresistible rogue of the vegetative world lurches forth to smother the globe, you can bet that it was born in my back yard.

I'm sorry.

But not too sorry. The hours of my life are precious. I could invest them in idle pleasure, or I could invest them in the preservation of the planet. That's a hard choice, but I've come down firmly on the side of personal ease.

At this point, I'd like to offer a representative sample of books, magazines, videos, audiotapes, websites, and community contacts, that would illuminate the issues far more precisely than I have indicated here.

I'd like to, but I'm not going to. I've just looked out my back window, and everything back there has SURGED in a fashion that I can only describe as alarming.

You can find wonderful information about the topic of lawn care and gardening at the library, both in our catalog, and on our website. Of course, I've never verified that, not on this particular subject.

Right now, I'm inching my way to the telephone. I'm going to call the reference desk. What do you do, exactly, when a wall of leafy strangeness lifts itself up, hurls itself at your window, and

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