Friday, November 29, 2002
Watching grass grow
This fall life in Carlisle has been as exciting as watching grass grow. Literally, for me. That's because at the end of our house renovation, once the paint was dry and the topsoil had been spread, we decided to repair our lawn the old fashioned way — by seeding and watering it ourselves.
The experts agree that fall is the perfect time to grow new grass. In September the new lawn across the street had quickly grown into a vibrant emerald carpet. Surely ours would do the same, even if planted in October. The lawn across the street was hydro-seeded, and watered twice-daily by automatic sprinklers. Putting a sprinkler on the garden hose didn't work for us, due to our water pressure and the irregular shape of our lawn. The alternative was to water the grass by hand.
Experts say it's easy to grow grass in the fall. It practically grows by itself. Our experience has been that new grass easily dies by itself. If we want it to actually germinate and survive, it needs a lot of watering. Weeks went by. The green fuzz I rejoiced over one evening, turned out to be just fallen pine needles in the cold light of morning. Speaking words of encouragement to the bare ground didn't help at all, but a spell of warmer weather finally made the miracle happen. We now have lots of little green shoots in the front yard.
As we enter the holiday season, many families will enjoy spending time at home together, renewing old-fashioned, labor-intensive traditions. For instance, preparing holiday foods is an activity in which all ages can participate. The time spent is valuable, not wasted. Kids will remember baking cookies with grandma much longer than they will remember watching TV with her.
Is there any value in our old-fashioned approach to growing grass? Maybe we use less water, because we're standing out there applying each drop ourselves. The main advantage, though, is a newfound enthusiasm for rainy days.
The phone rang. The garage door repairman was calling from his truck. "I can't find your house," he said with exasperation. "What number is it again?" I knew immediately where he was — around the corner, somewhere on Indian Hill, where I don't live, instead of on Indian Hill Road, where I do. I gave him directions and he drove into my driveway as I hung up the phone.
When we first moved to Carlisle, we were unaware of the dual Indian Hills. Our moving van, the Macy's truck, and the carpenter got lost before we figured out that we needed to provide up-front directions. Then came the wintry day when the UPS dispatcher informed us that our address didn't exist. Over the years we have rescued many errant and perplexed drivers who strayed onto our road, steering them back down the hill toward Indian Hill.
Street names are part of every town's character and charm, even when they're based on numbers. I've lived in Manhattan where the most logical matrix of streets and avenues defies even the most directions-challenged visitor to get lost. Meeting someone at the southwest corner of 7th and 51st? No problem. Furthermore, all those streets are straight, a concept alien to Carlisle, where they bend and twist as tortuously as the Concord River. And yes, I confess that comparing New York with Carlisle is like comparing Gristede's and Daisy's.
Some Carlisle streets change their name with each bend and twist. Adding to the Indian Hill-Indian Hill Road confusion is the appearance of Autumn Lane, half way up Indian Hill. It pops up near Robbins Drive, meanders toward Estabrook Road, but inexplicably veers off in two sharp rights. Meanwhile, little Kibby Place takes over to lead us to Estabrook Woods.
Compared with some of our roads, Curve Street doesn't really curve all that much. And what's up with Pages Brook and Page Brook Road? Why do Virginia Farme and Nowell Farme Roads add a fussy "e" and Judy Farm doesn't? Just asking — after all, I've only been here for eight years.
Many of our streets are named after town residents — Blaisdell Drive, Heald Road, McAllister Drive, Nickles Lane and Wilkins Lane are all reminders of influential Carlisleans of long ago, while Koning Farm Road is named for our current and retiring fire chief. Peter Hans Road pays tribute to one Peter Hans Christiansen who, it is said, used to live in the area — and nothing more is known about him. Is Nathan Lane eponymous for the rotund star of "The Producers?"
Other streets have straightforward names: East, West, South and North should tell us which side of town we're on, but East starts in the center and South is mainly in the west. Church and School Streets tell us what's on them. Westford Street, Acton Street, Concord Street, and Bedford Road all tell us a destination, but shouldn't Lowell Street be called Chelmsford Street? Piggery Road, Red Fox Drive and Wolf Rock Road remind us of our four-footed friends, whereas my own Indian Hill neighborhood recognizes the Indians that once walked our woods and trails.
Our quirky street names are one more symbol of our ruggedly independent New England background, along with our stone walls, historic markers and Town Meetings. They tie us to our history and our land, and help define our unique town.
Coming to my house? Call ahead for directions.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito