Sunday, March 13, 2011

Art of Artificial Grass

Spring has come to town! In Doha, it means that rolls of artificial grass are being spread outdoors over large parcels of land in anticipation of summer heat and dust. Every lawn that does not have an underground irrigation does not stand a chance of survival.  This is where fake grass comes in handy. A harsh plastic look of these new lawns is somewhat mitigated with a curious design improvement. Here and there, the workers dump sand and occasional rocks onto the grass carpet, which seems to serve a double function:  to keep the carpet down, and to give it a more imperfect, natural look.

Strangely, this reminded me of an ancient Zen practice.  When Buddhist monks clean their gardens of fallen autumn leaves, they would always throw a bunch of leaves back onto a perfectly raked garden. According to traditional aesthetic principles of Zen (Wabi-Sabi), nothing should be too perfect. Not even artificial grass. 
Blogger RWordplay said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 13, 2011 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger RWordplay said...

Lovely how you tied the curious phenomenon of artificial turf to the refined principles of Wabi-Sabi. Your story also brings to mind something I observed some years ago in East Hampton. 

My friend, the boxing promoter Cedric Kushner traded the rights to buy his co-op for a house in the woods on Two Holes of Water Road, just north and west of the village of East Hampton. The house, a simple, single-story, glass and blonde wood modernist affair, was planted in woods that consisted mostly of scraggly black pine, assorted brush and a half dozen magisterial white pine trees. 

Cedric had grown up working class in South Africa and had through hard work and a bit of luck made a little money as a Rock & Roll promoter and later a boxing impresario. It turned out to be stroke of good luck that, at that particular moment, he could not, purchase his apartment, even at the insider's price. The trade would prove providential.

Once he established himself at home in the woods, he cleared a quarter acre of "forest" that stood off the south-facing deck of his house. I was opposed to his altering the rough simplicity of his property, but he had four or so acres of land, and what's more, his property abutted another 6 or so town owned acres, so his privacy was never at risk. The reason Cedric cleared the land was to construct a lawn. As a boy he associated lawns, emerald, sparkling, soft as the inside of a woman's thigh as a symbol of wealth and well being. For the first time in his life, Cedric would have a lawn. 
Within a few days the woods were clear, the land was leveled and within a few more days, the sandy thin soil was covered with a few inches of fine dark earth, as fine and as rich and black as you'd find in Iowa corn country. One morning, a rumbling was heard coming up the narrow rolling road. It was not an earthquake but a giant flat bed truck, loaded with roll upon rolls of grass and turf. The truck stopped past the driveway that led to Cedric house and then slowly backed in. 

Men jumped out of the truck and begin to unroll the grass. Unroll and align and unroll and align until, by the end or day, Cedric had the lawn he had dreamt of all his life. A Persian rug of lawn, as anchored and bright in the afternoon sun as the most noble lawn leading to the finest manor house in all of England.

Cedric had effected a transformation as wonderful and strange as Walter De Maria's "The Earth Room." He had placed a square cut emerald in the middle of a dark, knot of wood. It was a lawn suitable for croquet, perfect to stand barefoot and admire the sky and a joy to behold.

March 13, 2011 at 3:03 PM  
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October 19, 2011 at 10:57 PM  
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April 18, 2016 at 12:30 PM  
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