Paris Win: The Grass is Always Greener

Monday, June 27, 2011

Paris Win: The Grass is Always Greener

Get the shears at BHV...
I’m always a little confused when I hear a lawnmower outside my apartment.  There is hardly any grass to be seen, but apparently there are just enough patches of green between me and the Canal that someone invested in a mower.  Unlike hammers and band saws, the lawnmowers never irritate me.  Instead they churn up that childhood nostalgia.

Like most suburban boys, at least I think like most, I was charged with certain yard work.  My brother and I would have our go at the front and back lawns every weekend or so during the summer, riding the mowers carelessly over desiccated dog droppings and clothespins, trimming the yard to near-perfection.  Well, perfection was always subjective, as far as my grandfather was concerned.  A stickler for all things grass, he was rarely satisfied with our work on the lawn, finding fault in our technique and the eventual results.  But we were free labor, so who can really complain?

Like crickets in the evening and the rustling of the trees before a storm, the mechanical chugging of the lawnmower was part of the suburban symphony.  It’s a sound that I miss as much as the scents of the freshly cut grass that accompanied it.  Walking around the Hotel de Ville this weekend, I was surprised to find a patch of green that looked like it could use a quick manicure, and I could smell the grass baking in the heat of the summer sun.

The mayor's new front yard...
This Jardin Ephémèrea sort of pop-up garden, is as educational as it is bizarre, overtaking an urban landscape with tiny bits of rolling hills that seem to echo Julie Andrews’ voice.  With temperatures in the sun climbing the thermometer, I’m in no hurry to get the push mower out and start trimming the blades of grass, but I am antsy to kick off my shoes and feel them between my toes.

Of course the lawns here at the Hotel de Ville are off limits to touch, but there’s no shortage of Parisian parks calling me this summer.  Unfortunately their lawns will never smell as good as the ones back home after a fresh shearing.  I’m sure if my grandfather were here, he’d have a few words for gardener André Le Notre and his landscapes at Versailles or the Jardins des Tuileries.  Better him than me, right?

The hills are alive...


  1. suburban symphony, perfect way to describe that feeling!

  2. Completely relate to your childhood memories of the lawnmower - the sound does seem to conjure up long, lazy days of summer. Come on over to the Parc Monceau one morning whne they have just cut the lawn. Nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass and you can take off your shoes and run on it!

  3. Parc Monceau it is...there are only so many places to frolic barefoot in the grass...

  4. The breathtaking landscape definitely complements that beautiful structure. It's truly a sight to behold.