Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dear John, You’re Even Handier Than Edward

Ever since we bought a football field of grass I have been trying to convince myself that I do not need a rider mower.  Each time somebody told me I did need one, I had a reason why a push mower would work just as well:

  • It’ll be like painting a bridge.  By the time you finish it’ll be time to start again.
  • I’m going to be retired.  What else will I need to do with my time?

  • You’re going to be old.  It’ll be too hard for you to push a mower. 
  • I’ll get one of those fancy self-propelled mowers so you don’t have to worry about finding my exhausted body sprawled across the lawn mower or hear me whimpering for help.

  • Your ancient body just won’t be able push a mower for hours and hours even if it IS self-propelled.
  • I’m going to be 60 … not 600!  I’m still going to need exercise.  It’ll be good exercise for me.  It’s gotta be better than the evil elliptical.  

The truth of the matter is I was coming up with excuses because I was afraid of rider mowers.  I was 28 years old before I ever even mowed a lawn, and that was with an old fashioned reel mower that made quick work of the postage stamp lawn we had.  That little mower did a great job on the larger lawn we acquired later too.  Just ask Leslie and Abby.  I’m sure they’d love to share their lawn mowing memories.  Once the girls left home we dumped the reel mower graduated to a mower with a real motor.  Dean, as always, had my interests in mind when he insisted on an environmentally friendly, bicep and thigh-building non-self-propelled, electric push mower which over the past 12 years or so has also fine-tuned my cord-dragging/tripping/flipping abilities.

I’ve never mowed with a lawn mower that uses gas and oil.  I’ve never had to pull that cord until your arm falls off to get it to start.  I’ve never had to add gasoline, or change the oil or fill my lungs with exhaust.  When I thought about owning a rider mower, I not only worried I might become a ready-made torch if I spilled gasoline all over myself when I tried to fill the gas tank, picturing myself driving a giant razorblade scared me and kept me awake at night.

Since Dean didn’t think they made an extension cord long enough to reach the end of our property, we were forced to shop for an alternative means of maintaining our field of grass.  I just wanted to quickly get something and be done with it.  Get it over with.  But Ryan came along, asked questions, did some research and saved me from myself.   I finally decided if I was forced to reach outside my comfort zone to a mower with gas and oil and fumes, I might as well go whole hog … or, as it turned out … whole deere … John Deere, that is … Lawn Tractor.  And then I tried to forget we had bought it.  Until a week later when it was delivered and I had to face the realization that I was going to have to get up on that high-backed seat, start the engine … and drive the giant razorblade mow.  So I put it off as long as possible – until late Sunday morning. 

The kid who delivered it had given me a little lesson before he left but he might as well have been writing math equations on a blackboard because my brain shut down in fear as soon as he pointed to the key.  Dean made me read the manual but I might as well have been reading Algebra For Dummies because my brain shut down in fear again as soon as I saw the Safety Warnings.  Finally the time came when I had to either mow or hang my head in shame every time the neighbor moved the sprinkler on his impeccably cut lawn.  So we locked up Angus … Dean went over all the steps with me – again … and after I made him back it out of the garage … I got on … in the front yard (even though I’d explicitly begged asked him to take it to the back where nobody would see me) … started my engine, put down the deck, turned on the blade … and … I went forward …   

I went backward …

 and I sliced off grass with the giant razorblades like a samurai  mowed.   

 You thought I was going to say I got stuck in a bush didn't you? 

 Or tipped over.  Or sliced off a corner of the house.  I wouldn’t blame you if you did because I worried about those very things all weekend myself.  But Ha!  I didn’t.  I didn’t even lose control.   I’m not saying I loved it.  I didn’t.  It still scares me but at least I can hold my head up high; which might not be a good thing if it allows me to see the neighbors doubled over laughing while they watch me, brow furrowed in concentration, a death grip on the handlebars, putt putting along at around two miles per hour.



Susan Struck said...

I'm with you! I've been mowing since I was a kid but it always scares me a little as well. I also hate the smell, the noise and the vibration on my hands. I never got to use a reel mower but I thought they looked like a much better (and quieter) idea.

Jerry said...

You need a hat

Abby said...

That's some serious concentration. I still can't believe Dad didn't want the job. What kind of man is he?

Ah, the push mower- fond, fond, memories. I think watering the lawn with no water pressure was worse though. At least mowing only took a couple of hours. Watering took all day.

Larry said...

Ah Cathy, a John Deere, cool. That's better'n goats! I'm jealous...

Art Elser said...

Do those last pictures imply that you are training the grandkids to mow for you, sort of the old Huck Finn paint the fence routine?

I'm with Abby, though. If that were Al's riding mower, you only get it away from him by prying his cold dead fingers from the steering wheel. Kath won't let me mow any more, and we had an antique power mower anyway. Lawn's not big enough for a riding mower.

Ask al about the antique push mower we had when Al was a teenager and how much fun he had pushing it. One would have thought it was a power mower as blue as he turned the air telling me what he thought of me and the mower. :-)