Oh Mercy Mercy Me, I used to mow your lawn

Oh mercy mercy me
Ah things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east. ~Marvin Gaye, from mercy mercy me (the ecology)

mower 2 ~d nelson
mower 2 ~d nelson

Back when barely a teenager
I roamed around neighborhoods
pushing the family lawnmower and rake
looking for tall, green grass
knocking on doors
making a few dollars
then heading to the music store
& buying a latest album.
Remember wearing down the grooves
of “What’s Going On”
Marvin Gaye’s soulful call to wake up.

As a kid green grass was experienced as a given.
Not viewing it as an emerald of the universe
not seeing dandelions as golden messengers of peace for all;
not valuing sun, rain and earth which, seemingly offer freely
conditions so that I could mow their limitless growth
for my personal benefit & profit.

Some decades later it’s clearer, what’s going on;
things, including the weather, are not what they used to be.
I hear there’s a never-ending blizzard going on east of here.
As lawns in this western US dry up from lack of winter rains
a memory pops to mind from the Air Force base where I was stationed almost 40 years ago,
of painting dead grass-greenΒ to appease an inspecting General’s command.
We smirked, saluted and said, “yes sir“, then passed the spray cans.

Imagine if so many communities now facing
impending water rationing could paint grass-green! yet
what of those who make a living landscaping and mowing lawns?
It’s not just teenagers anymore.
In time will their jobs face obsolescence?
And who else depends on rain,
sun, earth for their livelihood,
for food, to bathe, to forage,
for life?

Recently Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
offers honest, direct guidance:

“So take refuge in Mother Earth and surrender to her and ask her to heal us, to help us. And we have to accept that the worst can happen; that most of us will die as a species and many other species will die also and Mother Earth will be capable after maybe a few million years to bring us out again and this time wiser.”

Humbly we continue offering gratitude for rain.
May we live in such a way
that respects and conserves our ancestors:
water, soil, and remaining earth’s bounties
so that children a hundred years from now
will clearly thrive with resilience born
from wisdom to live in harmony
with or without green grass lawns
respecting economic needs
to give back, not just taking
from our biosphere
of which we are made.

55 Replies to “Oh Mercy Mercy Me, I used to mow your lawn”

  1. Interesting post! I’ve been following Mel Harte’s posts a lot for some time now… entitled Climate Change Reports. Her posts are on the environment and what we can do to help it. She is a biologist and is a super great environmental educator. If the responses to her posts are any indication of how people respond to measures to actually care and do something about our environment… we are in big trouble. Her intelligent, environmentally significant posts hardly ever get any “likes.” The sad truth is that not enough of us care deeply about the environment. If things don’t change, we (and the planet) are in big trouble.

    1. thanks for your insightful words, Thomas!
      i’ll check out her blog.
      it’s not easy to stop this moving train
      we’re all riding on.
      scary thoughts creating strong aversions
      and intentional fear created of climate messages.
      oh, mercy mercy me.
      wishing you happy, calm breaths πŸ™‚

      1. there are stories
        of those who lived in balance with nature
        considering effects 7 generations ahead.
        seems wiser than living by
        quarterly profits.
        but outside i see
        the blue sky
        calling me outside to play πŸ™‚

      1. Exactly, every moment is a fragile beauty: let’s not get deluded into the “Cartesian split” that may ‘spiritual’ people peddle. πŸ™‚

  2. The idea that humans could disappear from the earth and the earth would go on, spinning in the universe, healing, no doubt better off in many ways – it’s such a hard idea for people to accept when anthropocentric attitudes are 2nd nature. But we really aren’t essential, are we? Humbling but also refreshing. Such beautiful pics and nice to think of Marvin and mowing grass.

    1. thanks for your understanding, Francis!
      back in the day i had a transistor radio
      where i could hear all the am hits of the day
      while mowing lawns, delivering papers or sitting in class πŸ™‚

  3. No green grass
    and the roses are white
    let’s paint them
    green and red
    and pretend
    that all is well in the world

    Great post…well thought out and lovely photos!

    1. kind of you to share
      your poetry & insight, my friend.
      i’m humbled to receive this complement
      from such an achieved writer!
      my posts generally come from feelings
      with a minimal amount of thinking πŸ™‚

      1. Thank you for writing an inspiring post! The painting the grass green inevitably brought to mind Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, I couldn’t resist! πŸ˜‰

  4. I thought about you and Thich Nhat Hanh while I watched this most excellent documentary about climate change and interdependence:

    1. viewing this inspires hope, that humans have the capacity to live harmoniously with the environment, and remain resiliant as things go from difficult to a catastrophe. yes, reminds me of living with the Hopi. living in an over-grazed high desert, enduring dust storms and less rain. somehow i’m not sure residents of calif are capable such adaptation. kind of you to think of me, Genie. sending you a grateful smile πŸ™‚

  5. A beautiful and personal post – thank you!
    As a kid, I, too, used to mow lawns, deliver newspapers, and buy LP vinyl albums. All are teachers about impermanence,
    I haven’t had a lawn or newspaper subscription in years and years. I don’t remember the last time I played an LP.
    I live in Southern California where the water is very precious, especially this year.
    I sometimes wonder if I’m depriving some enterprising child of their experience of earning a little, spending a little, and buying music new to them.
    Then I recall Thay’s words and remember that change is inevitable, and that I’m part of that change.

  6. You write so beautifully. I have come to a place where I find comfort in the idea you shared from Thich Naht Hanh. While I hope and believe that it is possible for humans to learn how to live in harmony with nature, if we don’t, I believe that mother earth will heal the planet after we’re gone. For some reason, I find peace in accepting that idea that life will go on without us. Our egos can get very caught up in trying to save the world, rather than simply doing our part to live as honorably as we can. As always, thank you for your soulful blog!


    1. i appreciate your kind, honest reflection, Karen. deep down i’m sure we both hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. But taking care of ourselves and other now, as you say, is the best i know. wishing you a happy moment, david

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