Here in suburbia the sure way to watch the arrival of a new generation is to see grass turn into rocks. I don't mean marijuana replaced with crack, which may be the way things change in some urban nabes. No, I mean literal grass torn out, along with wasteful sprinkler systems, to be replaced with small geological objects, tree bark and plants bred to survive nuclear summer.
Jesus, why wasn't this a sign of hipness when I was a kid and my dad made me decapitate a half acre of grass every weekend with a push mower? That's how old I am, push mowers. Now, as I look up and down my new street, I see that slightly more than half the front yards are quarried rather than cultivated. The yuppies, water conservationists and rock-huggers are here, and the Greatest Grassgrowing Generation is dying off.
I'm still stuck with a small, kidney-shaped plot of grass in the backyard. The previous owner assures me the token grass isn't a filled-in swimming pool, although with the current heat wave I've been putting enough water on it to fill a pool. Then, every few days, I go out with a weed-whacker and cut it. It's not big enough to need a mower. It's mostly edge. The process is maddening, so as fast as I can I'm digging up patches of the mini-lawn and planting tomatoes, cucumbers and arugula.
Yes, arugula. It survived ridicule and the '90s, and it might survive my gardening.