Saturday, May 2, 2009


I love to mow the lawn. I do! I never thought I would say such a thing, especially knowing it is on a riding mower that I experience this, but I admit it.

Now, before you go imagining me on a smooth, new, shining, John Deere mower, back up! It's, um, I don't know what color it is, but it's OLD! Really old. One wheel is bent off in a different direction, and the thing has to be jump-started from our car. After jump-starting, I have to sit on it and pull out and push in the choke about 20 times before it will stay running. The entire time it's belching exhaust, and making me cringe with the waste, the noise pollution, and the sheer ugliness of the entire affair. The seat is cracked and cut open in several places, which causes the foam inside to absorb moisture, which is then released against my rear, making it appear that I've wet my pants. The plastic also pokes into me, so I have to wear sturdy material. The steering is iffy; it gets quite temperamental about which way it wants to go, and there is no such thing as a tight turn. Shifting from one "gear" to another is funny too. The numbers go from 1-7, but they all seem about the same for the first 7 seconds or so, and then it will slowly begin to recognize that I've asked it to change speed. Reverse works... sometimes.

Today the blades were making a sound that indicated a loose bolt somewhere. I turned up my i-pod and kept mowing, just hoping and pushing for just one more loop around the yard, and then another, and another.

This is the sort of mechanical object that would have sent my dad into paroxysms of cursing. He can swear like nobody's business at inanimate objects, and this one would have been a prime target. I'm a lot like my dad, ordinarily, but with a few exceptions, this mower has earned nothing but my affection. When it quits half way through (and it does; repeatedly) I just climb off and leave it there and find something else to do, completely unruffled by its sudden refusal to operate. Doug will fix it. I am serene about this.

I won't drive a car that has a hole in the exhaust, a broken mirror, a smashed fender, or a cracked windshield. I shudder to think I could be seen in a "junker", the likes of which an ex-boyfriend from high school might have driven. But I love that mower.

Mowing, for me, is this: I wear what pleases me. Some days a bathing suit top and shorts, with grass-stained running shoes. Other days rain boots and cargo pants with a sweatshirt. Cowboy hat, or floppy beach hat. Later afternoon mowing includes a bottle of my favorite beer between my knees. Add my i-pod and headphones, turned up louder than the mower, destroying my eardrums. The mower bounces around on our bumpy, mole-ridden yard, and I bounce with it. I clench my stomach muscles to avoid back problems, per Dad's warning. My mower kicks up bugs, and behind me, the barn swallows swoop and dive, their backs flashing iridescent blue in the sunlight, while the hawks watch from above. I slow to a stop for a plump and fuzzy bumblebee, waiting for it to move on from its dandelion. I mourn each wildflower/weed that falls to my blades. I challenge myself to get as close to our little trees as possible, so that Doug will be impressed when he goes to use the edger/weed whacker.

I see neighbors drive by and their heads turn. I wave, or pretend not to see them. But I do wonder, what are they thinking of me? I'm usually grinning in the sun or singing out of tune (due to the headphones) at the tops of my lungs. I even have a "mowing mix" on my i-pod. Certain songs are good for running, and others are good for mowing.

Sometimes I have conversations in my head with people who badly need to hear what I have to say. It can be very satisfying.

Mowing is a time entirely to myself. I cannot hear anyone else, and no one tries to communicate with me, short of Tansy, who keeps her distance, with a mournful look to say she wishes I'd stop the awful noise... because, did I mention how incredibly LOUD this mower is?

The entire time I am out there I am thinking how silly mowing is in the first place, and how much happier I would be to let it all grow in naturally, or to plant wildflowers, but I do the mowing because it is What Is Done. The Thing To Do. Every year I try to shrink the yard by a few feet though, and every year I add more flower gardens to the land around me.

The yard is still ridiculously and embarrassingly large. Totally unnecessary, but if it needs to be mowed, I will do the mowing. I am the mower. Hear me roar.



  1. Oh darling, I hear you roar! Of course it IS warranted. I agree with that account. I was fined several times by the girls for swearing trying to get that son-of-a-bitch started! If it wasn’t for the loudness of that machine, I believe the peacefulness of mowing would increases tenfold (that is once it is started and remains running!). I do enjoy watching you mow particularly with beer in hand and sounds of your singing intermittently winning over the roar of the mower. Interestingly, singing on the mower wins out over singing in the shower. 
    And oh, poor Tansy, poor Tansy… You are so right about that one.

  2. I just LOVE you! You make me feel normal! So...either I AM normal, or we are both really disturbed! I thought I was alone on my therapeutic time in yardwork. I too have had the "conversations needing to be had" within my head. It really does help! I also am BEYOND proud at the fact that I am the mower at our house and that I get closer to the trees, landscape blocks and mailbox post than ANYONE! We should do a comparison some day!!