Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Zen of Lawn Care

Mowing the grass is my favorite summertime chore.  Okay, that's not really saying much, because I tend to despise all chores, but mowing isn't one of them.  It's really in a category all by itself.  It's more like... meditation with a power tool.

Mowing appeals to both sides of my personality--the girly-girl AND the tomboy.   It's a big, "manly" kind of outside job that doesn't require me to get dirty, or even sweaty, if the timing is right.  I don't have to worry about getting blisters or breaking a nail.  I can wear sparkly nail polish, flip-flops, and even jewelry, WHILE I do the job! 

I enjoy the peace and quiet of mowing.  The mower and the horsepower-whatsits all make noise, that's true, but it's kind of like being underwater.  The roar of the engine becomes "white noise" that doesn't bother me, but instead buffers out all of the other noises and creates a bubble that I'm alone in, at least for a while.  No Spongebob, no phone ringing, no dog whining...just the hum of the mower and my own thoughts.

Mowing is a job that can't be undone or messed up.  Too many of the tasks that I complete in a day, especially during these "housewife" days of summer vacation, are undone in a split second.  I finish the dishes, and someone eats.  I vacuum the floor, and someone spills Parmesan cheese.  Fold the laundry, and the dog knocks the piles in the floor.  None of that happens with the yard.  I mow, I finish, and it looks great, regardless of how many times people and animals traipse across it over the next seven days. 

The path is clear, grasshopper.
When I mow, I can clearly see where I've been, but also where I need to go.  The path is clearly marked by the straggly grass waiting for the blade.  In real life, I tend to spend too much time looking at where I've been, but it's sometimes hard to see which direction to turn.  I can't look behind me too much when I mow, because I might get knocked down...(hmmmm)...and it's no big deal if I turn the wrong way in the yard.  I can turn around and mow in the other direction at any time.  And the best part of that is, that NO ONE will ever know if I made a mistake, because it all ends up looking the same! 


I can drive in circles and nobody can stop me.  My dad used to fuss at me for mowing in weird patterns when I was a kid.  He wanted it all square and even, for me to mow "inside the box".  But I never did, and still don't...figure 8's, donuts, around in circles with the throttle on high until I'm too dizzy to see where I'm going...that's how I mow.  I could NEVER be in charge of groundskeeping at a baseball field.  There are too many straight lines and even patterns.  That's not how my mower, I mean, BRAIN, works! (I'm pretty much convinced at this point that only men can mow that way.  No offense, men, but your brains are full of boxes.)


The obstacles of the yard are much easier to navigate around than they are in life, because they are large, in-my-face, and unmistakable.   I take perverse pleasure in seeing how difficult I can make the obstacle course, occasionally shifting into a slower speed to make the especially difficult turns and maneuvers.  The smaller obstacles are actually the most dangerous ones, and remembering where those pesky tree stumps and roots are keeps me on my toes and paying attention.  And again, it doesn't matter which direction I take to get around the trees, because it all ends up the same.

When those moments of quiet aren't what I'm looking for, I can sing at the top of my lungs without hearing how awful I sound.  Neighbors, I apologize, but there's really not much that's better than Lawnmower Karaoke, courtesy of the earbuds and the IPod.  It's waaaayy better than singing in the car--because there, I can sometimes hear myself. 

Limbo lower, now!

I can get cheap thrills without being bungee-jumping reckless.  It's all about how close to the trees I can get, how many unreachable spots I can reach, how low I can crouch under the limbo pole branches in certain spots of the yard.  I start mowing at a nice, slow pace, then speed up gradually until I'm practically flying across the yard.  Unlike those thrill rides that now petrify me, the key is allowing myself time to adjust gradually, to work up to it.  By the time I'm close to finished, I've worked up enough guts to go flying down the steepest hills in the yard--all without a seat belt--and I'm wondering if the neighbor would be offended if I mowed his yard, too, just to prolong the fun.

All too soon, though, the task is over, the yard is immaculate (at least for a day or two), and I can go back to my normal routine of...Watching the Grass Grow.

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