We have grass on our island. Real live grass. Almost a dead ringer for what you might find in your own front yard. And while I realize it’s not what most people think of when they think of the Caribbean, it’s also not a total anomaly. Yet each and every day, I can attest without exaggeration, there are groups of otherwise intelligent-looking adults who spend their valuable vacation minutes hunched over our grass, deliberating over its realism.
Our grass is nice enough, but by no means does it compare to the pristine splendor of a stateside golf course’s lush emerald carpeting. It takes a beating from the intense Caribbean sun, gets blasted by sea-salted air, and is constantly trekked over by the plethora of tourists who traverse our island each day. It has its fair share of burnt brown patches and spots that have succumbed to a weed invasion. In other words, it’s not so perfect that you’d mistake it for Astroturf.
But mistake it, they do. I spend a considerable portion of my days either inside or near our toucan aviaries, which are surrounded by the grass in question. And as the token local within reach, tourists are constantly calling upon me as an expert to settle their Great Grass Debate tie-breakers.
“Is the grass real?!” they postulate, eyes wide.
“Yup.” – me
“No way! It just can’t be!” they shake their heads in baffled disbelief.
“Trust me. It is.” – me
“Well, then what kind is it? I’ve never seen grass like this before!” they demand supporting evidence to my atrocious claim.
“It’s Zoysia. Available commercially. Very popular in Florida.” – me
I hate that I know the genus of our grass. It’s taking up valuable mental space that I should be allotting to something much more useful. But I get asked far too often to not have it at the ready.
At this time you’re probably wondering – what is wrong with these people? Are they stupid? Do only morons come to your island on vacation? What knucklehead really spends their vacation contending over something as inconsequential as grass?
It’s not that these people are stupid, I can tell you that much. Some of them are just as smart, if not smarter, than you and me. Recently, I had the above conversation – almost verbatim – with a group of men in their 40’s, clad in Harvard logo wear. They looked successful and like they didn’t work solely as Ivy League janitors. I remember this because before I answered, I looked around for camera crews, wondering just for a moment if this was all some elaborate hoax. But no, they were asking in earnest.
The only explanation that I can give you is what I like to call Paradise-Induced Mental Relapse. The beauty of our islands seem to both shock and stunt the tourists. To be fair, the excess alcohol doesn’t help, but I find that it’s really the picturesque quality of our landscape that blows their minds. They suddenly find themselves stumbling over their words like an ESL student, at a complete loss for adjectives to appropriately describe their surroundings other than “fake”. The water is so blue, it looks fake. The fish are so cool, they look fake. The grass is so pretty, it looks fake.
Believe me, vacations are notorious for dumbing me down, at least temporarily. Shiny things cause me to marvel. Everything seems to taste more delicious when I’m carefree (see: “This is the BEST salad EVER!”). I, too, have seen things in nature so spectacular, there was a part of me that believed them to be fabricated.
Should you ever find yourself under the influence of Paradise-Induced Mental Relapse (you will know immediately as soon as you start labeling things “fake”), I thought I’d share my own Guide to Grass that will keep you off your hands and knees, looking like a fool, and instead, on your feet, looking like the suave genius of the group you know you are.
Quick Tips for Determining the Realism of Grass
If it’s not all one distinct shade of green like the Astroturf at your local miniature golf course, chances are, it’s real.
If there are brown patches that appear to be dead, this is not the fake grass trying to fool you into believing it’s real. It is the real grass, dying, because it’s real.
Just because it doesn’t look exactly the same as the grass in your own front yard, that doesn’t mean it’s fake. In the same way that we have different trees than you do at home, there are also an array of species of grass. Isn’t nature incredible?
If the edges of the grass are incongruous and appear to be “growing” onto other surfaces nearby (sand, flower beds, rocks, etc.), it’s not just appearing to “grow”, it is really growing. Because it’s real.
If there are other green plants mixed in with the grass, as though they are a part of the grass, those are weeds. And weeds are growing in the grass because it’s real. In the same way that companies don’t produce artificial sewage, they also do not produce artificial weeds.
If someone tells you the grass is real, just accept it as fact and move on. At least outwardly pretend like you have other things to care about.
Then, like magic, you will.