I was mowing my front yard yesterday when Milo Bung walked by. He stopped in the street and called out something. I had to shut down the mower.
“What’s that?” I shouted.
“You don’t have to yell. I just asked what you were doing.”
I pointed at the machine. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
“I mean, is that a hobby with you, or what?”
“I don’t enjoy it, if that’s what you mean. It gets old after the first hour.” Milo knows full well that when I’m done mowing my small front yard, a huge back yard still awaits.
“Why don’t you get you a rider? You should see that little X570 of mine.”
“Got a 54-inch deck.” Milo spread his arms five feet wide. “Zip, zip. Done in ten minutes.”
“Good for you,” said I, mopping my brow with a bandanna.
“Nothing runs like a Deere,” Milo advertised.
I nodded. “Well, nice talking with you.” I yanked the starter rope to reawaken my Toro’s inner bull.
He said something which must have been “Good-bye” and waved at me as I stepped off, chasing the self-propelled mower across the grass. There was a lot of turf yet to whack.
In the 1950s I learned to cut grass with a kid-powered mower. You had to open the oil cap and squirt in oil from a can to lubricate the reel, like Dorothy loosening up the Tin Woodsman, then use a screwdriver to adjust the cutter bar so the blades would just graze it as they went around. Then all you did was push.
When grandpa died in 1957, we inherited his rotary power mower—a puny thing by today’s standards. Since then, I have decapitated untold billions of grass blades, using several generations of gas-powered, walk-behind, 22-inch rotary mower.
As I told Milo, I do not enjoy cutting the grass. But I do enjoy having cut it.
There are few feelings as grand as sitting in my zero-gravity lawn chair on a summer afternoon, sipping iced tea and reading a nice book, smack dab in the middle of my new-mown lawn. Master of all I survey.
Besides this giddy prospect, there is a practical reason for mowing. It’s about the only exercise I get, besides tennis, in the summer. I put six thousand steps on my pedometer just by mowing the lawn. Some weeks I do it twice, or even thrice.
I could buy a lawn tractor or, better yet, hire the job done. But whenever I consider such a step, I think of friends who have a lawn service. They all seem to be falling into decrepitude, though some are younger than I, by months or years.
It boils down to this: I dislike mowing the lawn but am terrified to stop.
May all your clippings be reduced to fine mulch.
Larry F. Sommers, Your New Favorite Writer
Author of Price of Passage—A Tale of Immigration and Liberation.
Price of Passage
Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois
(History is not what you thought!)
Don’t stop, Larry. Never stop!
Oddly enough, it seems less boring than a leisurely walk around the neighborhood.
This is exactly why we still mow our own lawn with a personal pace mower. Almost 1/2 acre. It takes me about 50% longer to do the whole yard than it does the hubby. I have much shorter legs!
I can remember the reel mower and the first Lawnboy. However, now we now probably over 5 acres. It is the old “the bigger the mower, the more you find to mow”. It takes over 4 hours with a 72″ deck.
Ours is only about ⅓ of an acre, and that’s enough for me!
Brought back loads of memories; from dislike of mowing to guilt for not doing it for exercise sake. Though not as big as 1/2 acre, I now miss mowing.
Happy mixed feelings to you.
Isn’t that always the way of it?
Thank you, Larry, for your musings on the discipline of lawn-mowing. That task was always designated to my brothers when I was growing up, and there were no shortages of brothers (I had five.). However, I always loved the smell of cut grass, and Saturdays in the summer after one of my brother finished their chore, I loved to rake up the clippings and smell the perfume.
Thanks for the reminiscence, Connie. I agree there’s something about that aroma.