Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Landscaping run amok....

There certainly have been things going on since the wedding... lots and lots of things that have required my body and my mind, and some things that have required deep thoughtfulness on my part before the part of me inside that yearns to share it through writing is able to do so.

One of the things that has not been happening too much is mowing the grass... we have grass, not so much a lawn, but lots and lots of grass. It has rained, the Chief Grass Mower Man has been working and the time that he would normally have allotted to the task has been taken up by more things than make sense to tell you about.

First, there is a couple of moments of 'back story' that you need to know.

I grew up here, amidst the aunts... the amazingly wonderful but very old aunts, in their 8th and 9th decades of life, it had to be a bit of a disappointment that the Powers that Be did not drop off a male child to do the manly tasks.  But, alas, Powers are not always thinking along those lines and you get a girl child... a girl child, that simply by being told that it was a 'man task' would necessarily set out to prove that a girl child could do the deed.  So, from the age of about 9 until I married a man (I tell you, the ladies were jumping for joy at the prospect of a man about the place~!) I mowed the grass... and I did this task with a relic of an old, old red push mower and an even older, but sturdy riding mower.  I learned to change the oil and service the mowers because I could read, ahem... (reading comes in good for many things!) and I grew to enjoy the near constant task of mowing acres of grass. As I got older, I enjoyed 'sunning' (in retrospect, not so smart!) in a bikini while I mowed.    Then, I married that wonderful man... and my mowing tasks were relieved by his manly self and I tended toward the task of parenting and breastfeeding and such.

Thing two that you should know is that shortly before my father in law grew ill with multiple myeloma, he purchased a CubCadet mower.  It was a superb man-toy... superb, I tell you!

Fast forward to tonight... I needed some physical activity.  I went to ride the bike and the seat was soaked and the tires were flat and there was no tire pump to be found anywhere.  I tend to explode bike tires with the use of the tank of air, so on my way by, I noticed the mower... and the tall, tall, tall grass....

Aha... a physical outlet.  I had, last weekend, a momentary tutorial on the big machine given by the Chief Grass Mower Man.  He rather bemusedly watched me lay waste to the field between our house and the neighbors. It was interesting and rather very fun, in a sort of heart stopping, lurching kind of way.

And there sat the mower...  now the Chief Grass Mower Man is in another state... and there is all that grass....

I bet you can guess what happened next!

OK, all you manly sorts, STOP giggling... right this instant! 

It was awesome!  After spending far too long inching the powerful machine from under the lean to shed by the barn (this has to be a trick, or a plan,,, to park it in as inaccessible a place as can be had on 100 acres) I engaged the blades and rather enjoyed the first few passes.  Now if you do know what a zero turning radius mower does, then you will understand without explanation, but for those who do not, or who have never had the thrill seeking joy of riding one, then let me explain.

You do NOT have a steering wheel.. nor do you have a clutch and brakes where your feet are.
You have these two levers, one for your right hand and one for your left hand.  Pushing forward on the levers, keeping them relative to each other, moves you forward, with great speed, I might add.  Pulling them back toward your body, disengages the blades and backs you up. Opening them out, engages the brake and allows you to leave the seat.  The big trick comes when you do not move the two levers relative to each other... for instance, you push one forward and pull one backwards... this, folks, it how you turn (or adjust for major holes, bumps or unmentionable things on the ground in front of you (more on that later)).

This mower is a LOT, a rather very lot, like a ride at the fall carnival!  Unexpected moments abound, quick and constant reactions are necessary and you can cut down lots and lots of grass and anything else that gets in your way.

This requires MUCH coordination and get ready,,, here comes a HUGE sexist statement... this thing HAD to be designed by a man.  Possibly a man, with too much time on his hands, who also has a very short attention span and lots and lots of thrill seeking, need for speed desires.  Oh, MY....

Anyway... ANYWAY... I set off to conquer the mower and the grass... and at first things went pretty well... wide open spaces... relatively even ground.  I noticed that speedy turning (is there any other kind on this mower?) produced 'skinned' places on the ground.... Oh, well.. less grass to mow next time...
I also noticed that if you throw one hand up to wave at the neighbors (whom I thought were walking for exercise, but MIGHT have been watching for entertainment sake), then that whole 'not relative to each other lever thing' kicks in and you spin in a circle opposite of the hand with which you waved.  The same EXACT thing happens if you use one hand to get hair out of your face (remember to get a bandana next time) or if you attempt to stop bushes and tree limbs from removing your head or limbs.

Does this begin to sounds like it might have been amusing to watch???

Now add to that scenario, coming through tight quarters in the back yard, low hanging limbs and tall grass, a fairly large hole (adjust quickly with one hand) and then... there it is.... a dead cat...  not a recently dead cat mind you... a fairly 'old' dead cat... ADJUST... ADJUST!!!! ADJUST!!!!!  'Phew...  a gross, gross event avoided... but alas, before I could straighten up (straighten up body, limbs and mower), there, just in front of the front wheels was a dead chicken!   arrrghhhh!!!! Adjust!~ Adjust!~  Ok, so I'll admit to being slightly shaken and it taking longer to adjust and set things to right and at JUST THAT MOMENT... oh, say it ain't so... a big, fat, dead possum...  At this precise moment, I remembered how to stop the crazed machine~!

How, you might ask, can we have that many dead animals in the back yard?  And not know it?
Through a series of misadventures the last two weeks, I was fully aware of the dead cat and the dead chicken, but thought that both had been duly and properly buried.  Well,,, they had been buried, but unearthing buried creatures was apparently a fun thing for Nick to do.  (There's a Nick story but not for today, that's one of the reason that I needed to get physical with something.)  But, truly... the big old possum,,, I was blissfully unaware of it's departure from life while traipsing about the back yard.

I really enjoyed mowing the grass.  I'll admit to being adequately distracted from my troubles AND I should be tired enough not to get up at 3 am and wander the house, as has been happening these last few nights.
And I'll admit that very often, my thoughts turned to my father in law, who I miss some days more than I can explain.  He's either very pleased and delighted, sitting there in heaven telling all his buddies that is HIS daughter in law using his mower, or he's mortified... but I'm thinking it's the former,,, surely there is no mortification in heaven.

A long time ago, I learned from my old ladies that whatever troubled you had best be dealt with by hard work, getting busy to put it out of your mind and possibly a solid afternoon of baking something.  If they taught me nothing else, they taught me that even when I didn't want to, when I wanted to sit down and throw myself  a pity party, the thing to do was to get up and put one foot in front of the other until the trouble had passed you by.

I'll say,,, it passes by you faster when you're on a CubCadet!

With deepest apologies to Chief Grass Mower Man, whom I have fussed at on numerous occasions for his having run amok over heirloom plants.  I have a new found understanding tonight, of how this might have happened. I do love you and truly appreciate the 27 years that I have not mowed the grass.


  1. Bwahahahaha!-cough, cough-I remember how the first time I took the old riding mower out for a run, I ran directly headlong into a tree. The turning radius on it wasn't quite fantastic. Fortunately, the Chief Grass Mower Man (aka-Dad) was otherwise occupied-he'd given me the tutorial and moved on. He also did not see me struggle to reverse the mower, back it up, and upon popping it back into forward motion hit the same tree a second time.

    I plan on using the super-old-school non-motorized blades on wheels contraption should I need to mow our smallish in-town lawn. Seems safer for the neighbors and gets more exercise out of a smaller yard. ;-)

  2. My word, child, you have to come down here and have a go at this thing... way out in the middle of a field...I'm telling you, it's like some sort of ... well, it's a bit like me and the spinning wheel... you know, how things don't all work together right...

    You know, sometimes we DID watch you have those little bump ups... for we knew that you HAD to do that to learn... I was always proud of your grit and determination though... and it's really taken you far!~

    You CAN use a reel mower and the newer ones are nice and far easier than the old heavy ones. I think you might need a goat for that back yard!

  3. Sounds like driving a swather!

    I can remember mowing the grass with the push mower (non-motorized) when the grass was way too long and the motorized lawn mower was broken and my brother was too lazy to do it.

    What a lot of work! And no grass catcher. Raking was the hardest part!

    MMmmmm the smell of fresh mown grass.

    susan f.

  4. Dear heavens, woman, when are you planning to write your memoirs? This sort of thing really ought to be in a book. You're always enjoyable, but this is so well-written, it really does take the cake!

    Your bonus child