TRYING NOT TO FALL OFF THE LAWN MOWER
It took a lot to conquer my fear of mowing the lawn on the Troy Bilt. I would like to say that deep breathing got me through it or a couple of beers but the reality was that deep breathing didn’t get me through natural childbirth either and it was usually way too early to start drinking when I was on the mower. Unfortunately, this was a task I knew I would have to master on my own.
Problem was that whenever I got on the ride-on mower and hit a hilly patch on the property, I always felt like I was going to fall off the damn thing. This in part could probably be attributed to an incident in September 1971 when I was on a roller coaster at the Munich Oktoberfest and managed to hit my head on a metal bar in front of me that was supposed to be holding me in place. Most people visiting the Oktoberfest wind up with a wicked headache from too much beer, I had a headache from the grapefruit-size bump smack in the middle of my forehead.
Even though I remember being offered both a big German pretzel and a chocolate-shaped heart after the ride (presumably to stop my crying or shaking or both) even the passage of time hasn’t erased my memory of nearly falling out of the roller coaster and being scared to death. Obviously ever since then I don’t much like rides (although I did do the log flume thing at Universal Studios one year when we took the kids to California). Mastering the lawn mower would be difficult simply because being on it felt a bit too much like an amusement park ride.
Lynn kept insisting I wouldn’t fall off the mower. When I hit a patch that was steep or rocky, I definitely felt the chair shift and tried to find a way to hold on without bringing the mower to a complete stop. I finally got the hang of it but also only allowed myself to mow certain sections of the lawn that were fairly flat. Doing so I was able to relax a little and started to look around the property.
We have a lot of trees – maple, oak and pine and a fair number of sumac, too. We have a grove of bamboo and some old looking vines that have some sort of fruit dripping off them but truthfully I can’t tell if it’s a berry or a grape. We have a field of wild mint that you can smell when the wind blows in a certain direction. We also have an old well smack in the middle of the property that’s been boxed off and locked and is a tad unsightly. We also have pieces of metal pipes strewn about – the remnants of some sort of watering system since at some point in time the property had been a farm.
We have bushes spouting poisonous berries (yellow and red), wild flowers, lots of weeds and nettles and a large number of burdock. We also have tree stumps randomly scattered throughout the property – trees that were either cut down or came down on their own.
It takes a long time to mow this property. About FOUR hours. Then there’s the issue of what to do with the cut grass. One weekend we started raking it and piling it into a wagon we attached to the Troy Bilt and then dumped all the grass from the wagon into the compost bin. But raking the cut grass took nearly twice as long as cutting it! There had to be a better way. When an Amish family rode by in their horse and carriage the next morning, I thought about offering them the use of the property for their horse to nibble on. But then I realized they lived up the road and looking at their farm realized they probably had 100+ acres compared to my meager four. What was I thinking?
I was trying somehow to reduce our own carbon footprint (mower emissions plus fuel consumption) but in reality once I conquered my fear of riding the mower, it was actually kind of boring. Switching to the regular push mower (used on the front lawn and areas where you couldn’t ride on the mower) wasn’t an option — it was back breaking work not to mention extremely sweat producing.
As I sat on the mower, slowly going around the property, I would gaze fondly at the hammock that Nick had hung between two of the trees. Perhaps someone needs to invent a remote control mower like the Zoombot vacuum they came out with a few years ago. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Could I hire someone to mow the lawn next year? All four acres? Without spending a fortune? Would it look slovenly if I curled up in the hammock while they did so? Even more so if I ate a pretzel and had a beer while they were mowing? Stay tuned.