I give my father all of the credit for my over the top, head over heels love affair with grass. Yes, I am weird, but I will tell you this……my grass is gorgeous.
The Early Years….
The gardening bug took over my life at a very early age. When I was growing up in tiny town USA, also known as Tallulah, Louisiana, “Yard of the Month” was a big deal at our house.
Our yard was an immense source of pride for both my parents. They were always outside fertilizing, mowing, planting, or pruning something in anticipation of having that tiny sign staked out in our front yard for an entire month. Sometimes they got that coveted award two months in a row.
I cannot overstate that this was a BIG DEAL and discussed at length at our dinner table many nights. Some years ago, I came to the realization that because of my sentimentality, many plants they loved and nurtured have found their place in my own yard.
Plants such as crepe myrtles, Asiatic jasmine, azaleas, Japanese maples, all colors of hybrid tea roses, Lady Banks, clematis, pear trees, camellias, sasanqua, fig vine, vinca major, vinca minor, sweet olives, corkscrew willows, pampas grass, liriope, wisteria, dogwoods, Catalpa trees, magnolias, iris, hosta, peonies, red bud trees……. just to name a few.
These plants bring me such happy memories so much so that it has gotten to the point that I am extremely hard headed and ridiculous about some plants. These plants are not meant to be grown in this particular Texas heat or soil. Whatever…..where there’s a will, there’s a way….. AND a pot.
The Beginning of My Love Affair with Grass
One of my favorite obsessions is my grass. I’m sure you think I really need to get a life and possibly consider smoking some grass. About thirty years ago, when Daddy moved us into his dream home on the outskirts of our small town, one of his biggest sources of pride came from his St. Augustine. He loved his 4 acres of green stuff.
Daddy lived to jump on the Kabota for hours and hours and hours. He was an expert and as a result, the grass was lush, thick and unbelievably gorgeous.
Because Daddy also had his own love affair with grass, a few years ago when David and I got ready to landscape our yard, I chose St. Augustine. David tried to reason with me that this was not a good idea.
There is an enormous amount of maintenance and disease prevention…….and the armadillos in search of grubs……..let’s not even mention the plethora wild hogs. Well, do you want to guess who won this battle? More about my grass later…..
Daddy obviously worked his magic on the grass. But, there was one particular area that drove him nuts, and that was the area around the pine trees right outside my parents’ bedroom door. Grass would not grow there no matter how much he tried, always in vain, or so I thought.
Daddy’s 8 P’s of Proper Planning
When I married the first time (don’t ask, BUT you can read about the day I tied the knot with David here), I wanted to have the reception in our backyard in Louisiana. Daddy was very uncomfortable because of several serious concerns …… the potential for rain, the potential for someone to notice his grass struggles, and the potential for everyone to be carried off by mosquitoes.
However, because he was the most amazing father I could have ever asked for, he began to work through his take on the 8 P’s of Proper Planning.
Proper Planning And Preparation Prevent Piss (Painfully) Poor Performance
Daddy was determined to give me my fairytale dream come true – a wedding reception in my parents’ backyard. So, he reasoned through the first issue pretty easily. If I wanted to have the reception in our backyard, then he would choose the wedding date. So, he chose the following May 21,1994 for several astute reasons. If everything went accordingly, his farming customers would be less stressed as they would have all their crops in the field.
Not to mention, there was a minor chance for stray showers at that time of night. For him, April was a deal breaker, but May was doable.
He also reasoned that even if a shower popped up (which would be excellent), it would more than likely be around 5pm. It would be over before we knew it had even dare sprinkle on the big day.
No, I’m not making this up. Daddy was the eternal optimist.
The mosquito issue was a bigger problem for him to solve, or so I thought. One night the summer before my May wedding, we were playing tennis. Out of nowhere, he came up with one of his many brilliant ideas and left the tennis court.
He came running back from his truck with a 5 gallon bucket and pointed out the numerous toads all around the tennis court fence.
Yes, toads……the kind that pee all over you after you pick them up. It was absolutely disgusting, but I happily loaded them in the bucket. As I did this, he explained that we were going to take all these toads home and put them on our patio.
By the next year, we would not have a single mosquito and the wedding reception would be a success.
The Infinite Toad Population
Flash forward to the following April, a month before the big day……….the toads had multiplied by infinity. We were overrun with them and you could not take two steps out onto the patio before stepping on one.
My parents reasoned that this would be gross for our wedding guests.
Not to mention, mom was tired of seeing Topper, our dear cocker spaniel, sucking on them when he went outside.
Daddy then walked me out to the patio with another 5 gallon bucket.
He instructed me to find every single toad, walk them down the driveway, cross the highway, cross the bridge, and then dump them in their new home in the bayou.
I hauled buckets and buckets every single night until he was satisfied with our reduced toad population.
The Genius and His Love Affair with Grass
Meanwhile, Daddy continued to stress about his grass issue and the bare spots around the pine trees. The day before my big day, I was standing in my parents’ bedroom talking to mom.
I looked out the French doors and there he was with his backpack sprayer strapped on in all its glory.
Over and over and over, he walked around the pine trees in small circles. This was not a surprise. He loved his backpack sprayer and considered it part of his regular wardrobe on most days he was in the yard.
What was surprising is that he was using his sprayer to spray paint the bare spots a nice shade of green.
If he could not grow grass around his pine trees…..well, no one outside the immediate family would ever be the wiser.
The Big Day
The morning of May 21,1994 was interesting……to say the least. The weather had more than cooperated and Daddy’s weather computer had accurately promised a blue bird kind of day.
Over the years, I watched many, many farmers stand in line waiting on their turn to get a seat in front of Daddy’s magical prediction tool that sat in the lobby of Madison Farm Supply.
That computer could predict the future.
However, at the crack of dawn on that particular day, I found myself screaming hysterically as I jumped out of bed. I had no idea what was going on, but the sound above my bedroom was deafening.
I began to panic when I realized a small plane was flying extremely low over our house.
Whoever was flying it appeared to be clueless about the potential to plow through our house. I wondered if any other bride had ever died on her wedding day as I watched the plane turn and hurdle towards me again.
Then, it barely missed our house before rising up and then gracefully dipped into the backyard.
Only in Tallulah, Louisiana…..
Everyone but me seemed oblivious to this very bizarre event. Whoever was in that plane had obviously had way too much to drink and the party hadn’t even started yet. I walked into the kitchen to find Daddy grinning from ear to ear.
Apparently, when you live just outside the city limits in tiny town USA, you can do anything you want to your backyard, including hire your local crop duster to spray for mosquitos.
By now, I’m sure you realized that I defeated David in the grass battle. My St. Augustine is absolutely gorgeous.
However, at times, it is high maintenance and I watch it like a hawk to stay ahead of any potential disease or stress from weird weather patterns.
Fungus prevention can be a nightmare and some summers are worse than others. This is why David rolls his eyes when I spot a potential lawn problem early on.
I tell him that we cannot mow more than one area before treating the lawn mower with a Clorox rinse……just in case :).
He also struggles to accept my reasoning behind waiting on the “seed head” before we mow when he can barely find the cats laying in the grass.
A Nod to the Best Father Ever….
I am so blessed to have learned from the best. Every year in early June when my St. Augustine is so green, lush, and thick, it doesn’t look real, I know my sentimentality is more than worth the hard work it takes to manage my grass obsession.
I am blessed beyond measure to have a little bit of Daddy’s story growing in my very own backyard. And, my love affair with my grass serves as a reminder of the impact he had not only on me, but so many others.
A friend of mine wrote this not long after we lost Daddy. “If ya’ll can do today, what day can you not do? Never have I seen more grown men shedding tears than I saw today.
Tears for the pain you all had to endure and tears for ourselves because we are a little better for having known him and a little poorer for having lost him.
Your dad was a fine man. He gave so much to so many people, some you will probably never even know of.
It’s going to take a lot of rain to wash that good man’s tracks away.”
David doesn’t mind my hard headedness or my love affair with grass.
He goes above and beyond so that I can have my memories and make sure to keep the rain from ever washing my father’s tracks away.
When I look up at the sky, I know Daddy is grinning. He’s also super thankful I don’t have pine trees.
P. S. If you want to read more about the man who could do no wrong click here.
If you want to know more about me, click here.
Want a full proof method to keep your ferns green all summer long? Try my method.
I have wedding pictures that I love and I didn’t photoshop horribly. You can read about my marriage to David here.
LaurenSeptember 21, 2019 1:35 pm
Your Daddy sounds amazing. Such a great story about like in the South. I really enjoyed reading it.
GgartinAugust 30, 2022 3:58 pm
You are a maker and a storyteller! How beautiful your story is and that you share it. You are blessed in many many ways. My heart right now if filled with many emotions, thank you.
PS. Beautiful grass by the way. I’m going to sell my house and find a grassy back yard, somewhere in Phoenix. Ha.
JoJo MassAugust 30, 2022 4:58 pm
First of all what a great writer you are! And what a wonderful story!
It brought tears to my eyes. Your Dad was an amazing father to go to such great links to make his little girls special day the most perfect day ever! 🥲🤗