Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The plight of mowing

I hated mowing as a boy. I know it is a right of passage that all boys should take up mowing in the summer to make a measly sum of money and thus be inspired to become an entrepreneur. I was totally happy being a couch potato. I have a love hate relationship with mowers. At home I was able to escape the mowing curse because I had a brilliant plan, executed it and watched the whole thing sing--beautiful. You see my Dad is a perfectionist. Ultra perfectionist. When he vacuums, the lines are perfectly straight and you really can't walk on the carpet because it makes the lines all messed up (think about that one). Mowing was the same thing, exactly perfect lines. He had would mow in perfectly straight lines and loved the look of a manicured yard. When it came time for me to mow the yard I cringed. That all worked out when I got the plan. If I could mow in crooked lines and act like I was really, really trying then I would be evicted from yard mowing. Dad always had to start the mower because I couldn't manage to get the thing started. Dad always wanted me to start in the back yard. He would lurk about critiquing my every move and yelping at me. "Straighten up those lines! It's crooked!" After about two passes, I could tell that he was getting to the breaking point, that's when the secret weapon was unleashed. I had no other choice, if I were going to get out of mowing and get back to my programs which were calling my name--I had to pull out all the stops. A missed patch of grass, that's right one tiny little patch of unmown yard in a crooked line--"Stop...what are you thinking. You missed a spot...just give me the mower." "DAD! I.." "It's all wrong. Just let me do it, go in the house." Fortunately for me fathers are immune to the things that children do behind their backs, had he known I was smiling all the way into the air conditioned comfort of my den I would have been in big trouble. Mom's have that "snot radar" that can seek out and find a kid being a snot. "Wipe that look off your face." She wasn't even looking at me! How do Mom's do that?
I did secure two mowing jobs one summer that I dreaded like the plague. I mowed the yard for a sweet, sweet lady names Marie Cope. She was the matriarch of an influential family in the town and at church. One of her sons owned the only newspaper in town. She lived in a beautiful part of my small town. He house was a tiny white house. Inside the house always smelled like sugar cookies and moth balls. I wouldn't vote that for the next Yankee Candle scent, but in her house it just worked. Her floors were all hard wood and shone like marble. Everything in her house was immaculate and in perfect place. She suffered from debilitating arthritis and crochet to keep her hands from totally seizing up. She had to work her hands every day or they would stop working. She crocheted hangers and gave them out to everyone. The fact that I agreed to mow her yard was enough testimony to my love for her. I hated it. It wasn't a bad yard to mow, no hills, not exposed tree roots or pesky yard art. Just a beautiful green yard with two trees and pretty flower beds that changed with the seasons. I did have my moments mowing her yard though. If the mower ever stopped working I would have to go inside and call my Dad to come start the mower again. I always hated that. Once I mowed over a chain thinking I could skim right over it and not have to stop, risking the mower shut down, and pick it up. NO such luck! Whamo, the chain wrapped around the mower. Dad was not happy at all. He kept mumbling something about a rod and smoke. The new mower worked much better and I could actually start that one.
The other yard was for one of Marie's sons. His yard was a bugger. It was built into a hill and had all kinds of hazards. Much of the yard was tree covered so the grass didn't really grow, just the weeds. As you mowed over those passages I felt like I was walking into a wood chipper. I didn't mow that yard much because it really hurt. I think I made up something like my allergies were bothering me and stuff like that. It was probably a relief to them that I didn't mow the yard. I didn't do a good job at all.
As I look out in my yard now and see the brown grass of yesteryear about to give way to the new grass of spring, I cringe. I long for the funds to get my yard mowed by professionals who actually bought into the entrepreneurial vision of their youth. Those who mow with effort, can use a weed eater to trim the edge of the yard to exact perfection, and then get out their blower and erase the evidence that the yard was even cut, save the pretty grassy lawn. I love a mowed yard, just hate the getting to it and getting it done part. Fortunately my summers are crazy busy and I usually wind up getting two months worth of mowing done which is heaven. Love those folks who can mow.
My boys will likely get the privilege of mowing our yard. Of course I'll be totally comfortable with the crooked lines and missed patches of grass. Been there done that, wrote the book!

I was just about to post this when I remembered a funny Lucy-mowing story. Lucy loves to mow, she gets that from my Dad I guess. When she got married and set up her own house she took up the task of mowing the yard. My Dad went by to see her once while she was mowing the yard and came home to tell me this hysterical story of Lucy's mowing wardrobe. Apparently she didn't want to miss a phone call or miss the baby crying so she would put on a belt, one of her husbands, and clip on the cordless phone and the monitor. Like some star trek ensign on duty. I still love to get her with that one.


Tracy said...

ah.. mowing. now see what i hate about mowing is the time it takes. depending on the weather sometimes its an every-weekend thing. and i remember my dad with the push mower - now imagine how long that took! i rarely have mowed - only did it occasionally when we lived in MD and hardly ever here. The lawn is my husband's domain. He loves his lawn. (to the point of insanity - down to the "color" of it- crazy) And when we got the first ride-on mower - well he coulda died and gone to heaven. And when it died he was distraught. We finally replaced it this past summer - back to sheer bliss in his mind.
crazy.... we all got sumthin huh?