Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Memories of Mowing

It's been a rainy spring up here by the lake. It's only April 24 and I've already mowed my lawn seven times. If this keeps up, I will probably break my record of mowing my lawn 41 times last year.

Mowing is the eternal pastime of the male species; something that has to be done whether you feel like it or not. And it all starts when you're a kid.

For me, that meant mowing the lawn while growing up on Skyline Drive in the 1960s.

Since our property had been farmland only a few years before, there weren't any trees except for the two puny birch trees my parents planted in front. Our lot was one of the widest on our block – and it was all grass.

To earn our allowance, my older brother Ken and I did the lawn mowing. That freed up Dad to do something else, like maintaining the cars. He was always around while we mowed and it was kind of fun hanging out with him.

Ken and I split the work into two halves – one of us would do the front, and the other would do the back. The front was a better deal, since it was smaller and well, maybe that cute girl I was interested in might ride by on her bike.

Mowing the back, however, was so boring that one time Ken mowed his name into the lawn just to amuse himself. I wonder if a plane heading over to Long's Airport saw that huge KEN in our lawn?

The funny thing is that I only remember mowing on either Friday night (which was also Mom's grocery night) or Saturday afternoon. Doing it any other day – especially Sunday – was out of the question.

Bagging and or mulching was also a foreign concept back then at our house. I remember watching the grass shoot out of the side of the mower forming one long, continuous unsightly clump.

Nowadays, even one small clump of grass on my yard is intolerable, and it must be removed and disposed of immediately. But back in the 1960s, the piles of grass on my parents' lawn could be several inches thick and there they would sit after I was allegedly 'done.'

After a few years, Dad put in a garden, which made the lawn a little smaller. And later, my parents did some major landscaping and shaved even more square footage from the lawn, which was fine with me.

When I got married, and the spouse and I bought a 1940s colonial on Lorain's east side, I finally got to mow my own yard. Back then, I worked a lot of overtime, and it wasn't uncommon for me to have to mow the lawn late in the evening, under the street lights.  My neighbor Kirk used to yell, "You need a light for that thing!"

Like I said, mowing is the male's eternal pastime – that is, until the body begins to fail.

A few years before Dad passed away, I began to mow his yard for him again. With his weak heart, he was just too pooped, and I didn't mind. Mowing the yard again reminded me of the days when I was a kid – except the yard seemed a lot smaller. Best of all, it gave Dad and me a chance to hang out a bit.

He's been gone now for almost seven years, and I still mow the lawn for Mom, once a week. Hopefully I do a better job now than when I was a kid. At least now I bag the front – and I don't leave any clumps in the back either.


Randall said...

Oh boy. My father was a stickler for details. He always admired how the old golf-courses had "stripes" so he held on to his old Toro reel style lawn mower for as long as possible so our lawn had those same stripes. I had to mow the lawn twice each time - once in one direction, then a second time at 90 degrees. The next week the lawn needed to be mowed on the diagonal. He kept the mower blades razor sharp - he said they should cut like scissors - and that the rotary mowers just "whacked" the grass off. I think he only gave up the old reel mower once I went away to college and he faced the prospect going back to doing it himself. Plus he could not find anyone who knew how to sharpen the blades anymore! It was an antique by then.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Randall!

That's quite a story--I'm glad I only had to mow it once each week! I'll bet there were no clumps on your lawn!

Drew Penfield said...

I've always found mowing the lawn to be a relaxing meditative activity. Of course I now have the luxury of a self-propelled (but not riding) mulching mower. I worked for a lawn care company for a short time in 1999. Mowed lawns 12-13 hours a day! Exhausting work, nothing relaxing or meditative about it. I soon developed tendonitis in my forearms from the big mowers and was advised by my doctor to quit the job, which I gladly did the next morning.

Patrick joshua said...

I think you are very dedicated to your lawn .Nice story .You mow 41times in last year .I am sure you break your record in this year.
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