It was our early evening return from one of those hikes - up Skeleton Gorge, along the Aqueduct, between the Reservoirs and down the Jeep Track - that made me think again about lawns. The whole expanse of garden was in the great shadow cast by Table Mountain's eastern bulwarks, and the lawns were still peopled sparsely by quiet humans reading, on their own on a kikoi, or talking together, or playing bats, or sharing a bottle of wine. With the Hotttentots Holland Mountains on the horizon, still in sunlight, this foreground scene was idyllic, and made possible, it seemed, by that beautiful, soft, inviting lawn.
Again, that day after lunch, the lawns had lured picnickers (I find it inhuman that one may not picnic at the BBG), mothers and children, fathers and children, and the lone book readers. All generations were represented. And everyone was on the grass, in shade like cool water, cast by the old trees, on the hottest of days.
Let's not rip up our lawns! That was my Damascus experience.
I have written about destroying lawns in favour of other plantings (seeing thyme growing in a French lawn was the other Damascus moment). And the anti-lawn lobby has much moral right on its side in terms of the chemical component in lawn growing. But that is not the only way to grow a lawn, though it might be the easiest.
Lawn is luxurious, and calls us to play, and lie back. And think, with the sky on top of us. While the whole of the United States seems to be one big injudicious lawn, I think lawns just need re -evaluation. Halve them. Garden in the other half. Detach yourself from the TV. Unplug. Go outside. Don't be a lawn Nazi. Either on the dandelion-bashing end of the scale or on the ohmygod- you're-a-bad-person-you-have-a-lawn end...Chill.
We stopped at Colonels Bird's bath (picture in this sweet post), my favourite place - the clear, cold spring water welling up in it and flowing down the slopes in a beautiful, shallow watercourse with stepping stones beneath tree ferns and kloof plants. We passed a very small boy fishing for tadpoles.
We climbed higher to see the family of Eagle Owls we had been told about, and found them in the low branches of a Rhus, patiently observing the humans who came to pay them court in a trickling and polite stream.
Not everyone has a world heritage site on the doorstep. If this is your doorstep, pack a basket, and go and lie on the lawn...