I remember the breezy spring days when he would tear open the big paper bag from the Bandini Fertilizer Company, and fling shovelsfull of the rich, dark powder across the lawn. To me, this ritual was always the harbinger of summer hours I would spend on the green plush, wearing only bathing trunks and watering both lawn and myself in the afternoon sunlight, aiming the hose straight up into the cloudless blue sky, so that the bright drops would fall glittering back down on top of me, the rising scent of wet grass and earth as refreshing as the cool water.
In those days, the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles were still home to many herds of dairy cattle, and on Sunday drives we would often pass them before reaching the orchards and vinyards farther out in the countryside. We would roll up the car windows as we passed these pastures full of stolid, munching cows. The smell was astonishing. It was always a puzzle to me how a beast that produced such pleasant smelling dung could emit such rank, acrid flatulence. Just one of natures little mysteries.
Perhaps, one day this summer, I will go out in the yard and get myself wet with the hose. I doubt that it would be the same, though. Maybe it is best to let the memory lie in the past, as green as that lawn of my childhood.