Posted by: ritagone | August 21, 2013

Looks Can Be Deceiving!

new lawn

For years we have been plagued by rabbits in our backyard.  When I say “plagued,” I mean that there are gatherings of rabbits at twilight, for example, at the far end of our yard, the bunnies sitting in groups and comfortably chatting and finishing off their day.  I quite often expected to see cocktails or hors d’oeuvres being passed among them, so at ease were they on our property.  As a result, our lawn was turning into a rather ugly layer of rabbit poop.  And, frankly, dying.  They don’t call where we live the Conejo Valley for nothing.  (For those of you who don’t live locally and are reading this, “conejo” in Spanish means rabbit.)  Our two dogs have tried in vain to catch said rabbits.  I confess that they have never caught one rabbit between them, and probably never would have.  Those rabbits can really move when they need to.

Besides the rabbits, we have another problem related to our lawn: it takes a lot of water to keep it looking green and healthy.  Water in Southern California is akin to gold.  And it costs about as much.  Our water bills have been increasing on a regular basis over the last few years, and they were not going to get any lower unless we did something drastic.

So Michael decided to do some research on artificial turf.  You know, that green plastic-looking stuff you find at cheap miniature golf courses around the country.  Or the stuff they use in retirement communities in Arizona because water there is also at such a premium.

Well, it seems that old, ugly artificial turf is no more; there’s a new generation of it that is quite natural looking and really beautiful (see picture).  Eventually we decided to take the plunge, and out went the old grass and in came the layers of dirt, gravel, sand and finally the artificial grass, laid exactly like carpet is laid.  (I jokingly asked one of the guys laying the grass if he had been a carpet layer previously, and he said yes, he had.  It seems hardwood floors and Pergo have put many carpet layers out of business, and many of them are now laying artificial turf!)

Some new wrought iron fencing, sprinkler adjustment, new plants in the planter areas, and our yard will be spectacular.  That grass looks perfect!  Not a brown blade anywhere to be seen.  Sheer perfection.  The dogs love it, as the workers promised they would

Now when we drive by a lawn in our neighborhood that has brown spots, we recoil with disgust.  Yuck.  How can they?  Our grass is, well, it’s just consistently green all over, blade by artificial blade.

Which leads me to my metaphorical conclusion:  as I look at our new lawn, which looks so much like real grass, I am struck by this thought: it is not real.  It looks beautiful.  It is lush and green and flawless.  But it is phony.  It’s not organic.  It’s some kind of plastic material meant to last ten years or so and then probably self-destruct, like something out of the old Mission Impossible TV show.  The rabbits sure don’t like it.  We haven’t seen hide nor hair (hare?) of a rabbit in the week since the artificial grass was installed.  I assume it’s not tasty or attractive to them at all.  Even the gopher who had consistently made his home underground in our backyard has vacated the premises.  After all, now he would have to dig through gravel and sand and plastic to reach the surface, and where’s the fun in that?

How often do I look at something on the surface and make judgments about it based on what I’m seeing superficially?  Especially in a culture that operates so often by looks and possessions, those things which everyone can easily see and evaluate, it’s easy to do this.  But how often is it true that behind the beautiful façade lies the truth that what you’re seeing is not real, not legitimate, but a really good, really fantastic fake?

And so the lesson I have learned using my artificial grass as an instructor this past week is this: God, help me to see beyond the beauty (or the ugliness) of the surface of things and see what You see: the heart and soul of the matter, whether it’s people or situations or whatever.

And now I’m going to go sit and enjoy my backyard, thank you very much!


  1. Very nice article, Rita. Insightful and reflecting on things that matter.

    “hide nor hare” was my favorite line 🙂


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