My backyard lawn usually goes north for the summer. (Well, it goes someplace.)  I’ve tried everything to encourage it to stick around – fertilizers, weed killers, aeration and  reseeding,  but I’ve never achieved lasting improvement.  Seeking expert advice I sent soil samples to a renowned  university’s agricultural laboratory that provides analysis for residents. Since my backyard is on a slope, I sent samples from the upper and lower areas. A couple of weeks later I received a disturbing letter from the lab’s supervisor.

“Based on the analyses results reported by my staff, I am quite convinced you are attempting to perpetuate a frivolous prank on this distinguished institution. This is our busiest time of year and your clumsy attempt at humor is not appreciated. However, if you will identify the actual sources of your two specimens you will be doing the department a favor by ending the endless bickering that is causing quite a bit of backlog here.

“Apparently you have traveled extensively. The ‘upper’ specimen that you sent is definitely from a very arid region outside of the United States. One group of analysts believes the soil is from the Gobi Desert while other staffers insist it is from the Sahara.

“There is almost unanimous agreement on the ‘lower’ specimen as having come from the Okefenokee Swamp.  This has been disputed by a young intern who suggests a Devil’s Island origin, but we are not giving that serious consideration.

“Your ‘upper’ sample is causing the most controversy and wasted time here as well as a morale problem and loss of team spirit.  The Gobi group almost came to blows with the Saharas when the latter analysts claimed the detection of camel droppings in your sample. As evidence for their claim, the Gobis cite their discovery of remnants of a document containing Chinese script,  The Saharas contend it is merely a fragment of a local  Asian restaurant’s menu.

“If you will respond immediately by phone, fax or Email, with the exact original locations of the two specimens we will not press charges for your fraudulent action. ”

I phoned immediately and swore my samples were both from my Parsippany, New Jersey backyard.  I invited a lab man to come here on a windy day and find he can stand in the mud of the lower section and get hit in the face with dust from the upper section. The Super expressed abiding doubt and hung up on me.

I’m about to order 200 square yards of Astroturf as soon as I decide between end zone stripes and foul lines.








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