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The Bath House
In the early 1960s we noticed a house being built near us. It was a solid, brick house which looked out of place among the board and batten summer cabins along Big Owl Road. A cyclone fence went up, along with a mailbox which read “Harry Bath.”
Soon we noticed something truly remarkable at Mr. Bath’s house, which of course we quickly dubbed “the bath house.” It took a few weeks to be certain. We saw that the ground had been leveled and scraped clean. Could it be? Yes, right here in the middle of the forest, Harry Bath was growing a lawn, complete with a sprinkler system.
We were awestruck.
How could anyone grow a decent lawn at 8,400 feet, in this soil? And that wasn’t the most important question. We all wanted to know why he had gone to all the trouble.
I must have passed his house a thousand times since those days, but I never met Mr. Bath or asked the question that has smoldered in my head for a quarter of a century.
A few weeks ago, however, I decided the time had come, so when I saw Mr. Bath puttering in his yard, tending his beautiful, green, weed-free lawn, I stopped and introduced myself. At the time, Mr. Bath was a widower living in Denver and was in the floor covering business, which he said had been very good to him. We talked about houses and television reception, and he said he had often thought of moving here when he retires in a couple of years. Finally I steered toward the question.
“You’re obviously quite a gardener,” I said, easing into it.
“No,” he said, “I don’t have much of a garden to speak of, either here or in Denver.”
“But,” I countered, “you have this beautiful lawn up here in the middle of the trees, and it obviously takes a lot of work and time. Why do you have it?” (Subtle, yes?)
He thought about it for just a moment, looked me right in the eye, and after 30 years of my wondering gave me the best of all possible answers.
“I just like lawns,” he said. [The house has changed hands and the lawn is gone.]
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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