When we moved to our house thirteen years ago my biggest challenge was mowing the grass. I owned a Murray riding mower with a thirty-six inch deck. When all went well I could mow the yard in three to four hours and complete the trimming in another two. The mower was already well used and worn. During the second spring I threw a rod in the engine and had to replace the entire motor. During the third summer the deck had hit so many hidden stumps I had to begin a series of welded reinforcements. The next year the axel casing disintegrated beyond my abilities to repair.
I was a little over extended, so we agreed to hire someone to mow for a couple of years. Five years ago I proposed that we purchase a tractor with a finishing mower for the yard and I could also use it with some farm implements. The money we had been paying for lawn care would off-set much of the cost of tractor payments. It was part of a grand scheme that worked, justification = yard, purpose = farm. But the tractor was just too cumbersome to maneuver and didn’t save much time. Three years ago I purchased our current mower, a zero turn model with a sixty inch deck. It is a dream to operate once you get use to it (there’s another story here). Our mowing time has been cut in half. And Cheryl enjoys mowing.
Whenever I mow the grass I almost always think about my Dad. In my childhood one of my chores was to mow the yard. Dad gave me the assignment when the handlebars on the push mower were chest high on my boney frame. It took all my energy to keep the noisy machine moving forward. Twice I ran over wires that became projectiles. One was about an inch long and shot upward into my left knee where it settled about ¾ of an inch deep. The second was about one and one half inches of a coat hanger that went through my right foot from left to right and stopped just short of breaking through the skin.
Sometime after the second trip to the emergency room I got the bright idea that a riding lawnmower would solve all of my problems. Keep in mind this was in the mid 1960’s. I knew there wasn’t a chance in a universe governed by gravity, inertia, and my father’s work ethic that he would buy me a riding lawnmower, but miracles do happen.
I built up the courage and made the request. Dad’s response was typically Dad. “Son, I ride up and down the road and see these men in their tee-shirts and colored underwear running, you’ve seen them. I think they call it jogging. I suspect most of those men are doctors and lawyers who have big houses and big yards. And I bet you every one of them pays someone else to mow their grass. The way I figure it they would be better off putting on some clothes and getting their exercise pushing a mower in their own yards.”
That was the last time I made that request. Surrender all hope of ease everyone who enters that universe governed by my Dad’s work ethic and his home-spun wisdom.
P.S. Did I mention that the first thing Dad bought when he retired and moved to the farm was a riding lawn mower for his yard?
May 5, 2010