The Hunger Games

One of my occasional, absurd, impulse actions, I decided to join the throngs of millions and go see The Hunger Games during its opening weekend. Having never read the book nor heard of any of the stars, I was attracted out of a perverse need to see what all the fuss was about, considering how gruesome the premise is. For those of you still ignorant of this juggernaut, the plot hinges on a televised game of children fighting other children to the death. From the large number of shots of the heroine running through the woods looking terrified, I’m unclear how this flick is different from the Blair Witch Project (which I didn’t bother to see) or any other types of pseudo-horror films.


Reflecting on the Hunger Games reminds me of my own fight-to-the-death battle with my yard. One of the most noticeable differences between life in Santa Barbara and DC is the pride people take in their lawns. Nearly everywhere you go in SB, the lawns are neat, green, and well cared for. Up until 2002, I had the worst yard in my neighborhood—a friend optimistically suggested that I cover the whole thing in gravel and call it drought resistant. When at last, I couldn’t stand it any longer and had the entire place re-landscaped the joy I felt was boundless! I could now hold my head up with pride, knowing that mine was the fairest of them all.


Alas, three thousand miles away, I have discovered that Washingtonians take a bizarre form of smug satisfaction in leaving their yards a complete mess. I believe that it is some sort of puritanical hubris which must explain their existence in homes inundated by onion weed, yellow scruff grass, and the pathetic, half-dead Dogwood. Drive along any street in Northwest DC and you see this same yard, block by block by block. “What is this?” I ask myself. “Do these people consider themselves too busy crafting national policy to bother with things like killing dandelions?” When I survey our own pathetic outdoor space, toying with the idea of making my mark, I stop in my tracks. In the years I’ve been away, my father has erected a fence of such height that it could easily pass as a prison boundary—the only thing that would make it worse were if it were chain link. Unless you’re a kangaroo, you ain’t climbing this baby.  Tackling a yard of this size (which is quite generous), oppresses me, so I sigh and do nothing.


Back in Santa Barbara, however, the yard keepers take their responsibilities seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one woman I know keeps a gun within easy range to pick off the innumerable gophers and rabbits assaulting her precious plants. Recently, when she was repaving her driveway, some bushes needed to be removed. Once dug up, they revealed the final resting place of hundreds of four-footed interlopers in various states of decay. She is my version of Katniss Everdeen, locked in an intergalactic struggle to the death—the lengths vigilant Santa Barbara gardeners will go to in order to protect their bulbs reminds me to never, ever to step in their plant beds.


One Response to “The Hunger Games”

  1. Julianne Crispin Says:

    There was a late sixties, early seventies movie that featured a woman who was famous for wildly successful shrubbery. Turns out she murdered people and used them for fertilizer. A terrible movie, but you might want to keep an eye on that lady in Santa Barbara!

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