A conversation in heaven between God and St. Francis.

God: St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the worldis going on down there in the USA? What happened to the dandelions, violets,thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance gardenplan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiplywith abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attractsbutterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vastgarden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites.They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to killthem and replace them with grass.

God: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attractbutterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamentalwith temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growingthere?

St. Francis: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keepit green. They begin each springby fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in thelawn.

God: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast.That must make the Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cutit, sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

St. Francis: No, sir -- just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow.And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

St. Francis: Yes, sir.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back onthe rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them alot of work.

St. Francis: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stopsgrowing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so theycan continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheerstroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the springto provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to theground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protectthe trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhancethe soil. It's a natural circle of life.

St. Francis: You'd better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a newcircle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and payto have them hauled away.

God: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winterand to keep the soil moist and loose?

St. Francis: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy somethingwhich they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place ofthe leaves.

God: And where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

God: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you'rein charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

St. Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber," Lord. It's a real stupid movie about...

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.