Sunday, June 24, 2007

Grass is Growing in New Orleans

Prior to Katrina we had a very green suburban lawn. We also had a reliable gardener, Mr. Tri, or Mr. Nguyen, depending on how he felt like writing it. We hired him because he did our neighbors lawn and it was easy. We found it mildly amusing that the gardener was named "Tree".

On those few occasions we were actually home we found his blitz grass cutting technique simply amazing. Mr. Tri would pull up and it seemed like twenty guys with lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers and other implements would pile out to attack our lawn and our neighbors in a frenzy of activity. The grass never had a chance. In a few minutes with grass clippings bagged and sitting on the side of the street every one would pile back in and off they went to their next yard.

He did an excellent job, coming without being called and leaving notes on how much we owed him, with an envelope to mail him a check.

After Katrina we had a brown mess of dusty, dead grass. For a long time it didn't grow, well into 2006 we had nothings but dead stuff and dirt.

Eventually stuff began to grow, including the sunflowers and other odd plants which sprouted spontaneously around the area. I even seeded the yard with a weed killer, grass seed mix in an attempt to get something worthwhile growing. It didn't work.

We had lost touch with Mr Tri, so we got my Mother-in-Law's neighbor's son to cut the grass. He was a teenager going to school and like many teenagers not very reliable. He would come sometimes but it usually took a few tries to get him to come. Once he was there he did a great job. Eventually he stopped coming all together.

You might ask "Why I didn't do it myself?" I probably should have but, well I don't like mowing the lawn. I had owned a lawn mower before Katrina but being under water for awhile destroyed it. We had not been on intimate terms anyway. When I set it on the street to be picked up It was gone before the other stuff was picked up. It seems some people will steal anything. Since petty theft was an is rampant in New Orleans I decided not to replace it right away.

With the coming of Spring and especially the rain our collection of plants began to grow again. In the interim we had heard from Mr. Tri so we called him. He referred us to is Brother or Brother-in-Law or cousin I could quite figure it out, Mr. Luu Tran. Mr. Tran and I met and we made a deal. One fee for the initial cleanup plus a monthly retainer. Mr. Tran was a little hard to talk to, I have to admit my Vietnamese is very sparse, limited to a few dishes on restaurant menus. He got his point across and before I left Mr. Tran was pulling his gear out of the back of his van. The van looked very much like Mr. Tri's van but, without the helpers.

After the first go at it I was a little concerned, the yard wasn't really finished but it was a vast improvement. I wasn't sure if Mr. Tran thought he was finished or if perhaps he was interrupted by one of our summer thunderstorms. After a week or so to see if he would come back on his own, we called the phone number on his business card, and spoke to Mr. Tran's father. We weren't sure the message got through. A few days latter I came home to find the yard cut, all of the clippings gone. Everything was copacetic.

Things were finally back to normal ... Once more, the world was spinning in greased grooves.

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