I’m engaging in writing practice. I’m also engaging in lawn mowing.
I am a weakling and I can’t do even a full side of my lawn (which is not even remotely large) without sitting down and taking an extended break. I probably could if I had a riding mower, but this yard also has slopes a-plenty and the push mower is an essential.
I have a chair in the garage and I have a porch swing, both of which I can sit in shade and rest on when I decide that I’ve had enough for the moment. And I make that decision often.
One of my frustrations with my personal writing of late is that I have a ton of ideas but I rarely sit down and get them out of my head. I’m going to be sitting down a lot today. So this will be a random thoughts post, writing a host of things as they come to mind when I’m at rest from mowing my lawn.
This might get frighteningly long.
First off: let’s start with how pointless lawn mowing is.
What you are doing when you mow a lawn is you are taking perfectly good, oxygen-producing plants, and you are cutting them up. Blades that were once useful oxygen-producers are removed from their roots. Mind you, most of these cuts aren’t fatal; the grass blades can grow back. But you’re cutting them up all the same.
It’s a loss of perfectly good plant cells.
And why do we engage in this activity? In the simplest terms possible: peer pressure.
A well-trimmed lawn is associated with neatness and propriety; an unruly lawn with carelessness and rule-breaking. Most of our neighbors have made the life decision that they want to be associated with neatness and propriety, and their neighborly instincts make them keep the lawns well-trimmed.
Those of us who tend to unruly then are looked upon with disdain until we give in to the peer pressure to cut our well-growing plants.
Why have we normalized not allowing plants to grow naturally?
In addition to the work of stunting plant’s growth, the tools with which we engage in the work are highly problematic.
Lawn mowers are driven by gas engines of varying size, most sizes huge. I have a push mower with an attachment I can pull up to get power to my front tires, what I consider a luxury and what makes me look to my neighbors positively poor.
(This is not a joke: I was interrupted in the middle of mowing my lawn a couple of months back by a deeply concerned neighbor. With all alarm on his face and with passion for my condition in his voice, he told me he has an extra lawn tractor because he’d just stepped up, and surely I’d like to use it? It would be no trouble at all. This is what Christian charity looks like in North Greene County, Tennessee.)
(I told him I was a computer nerd and this was how I got my cardio. He suddenly was less concerned, although possibly more confused.)
These gas engines are meant to operate in the midst of flying grass blades, and as such are quite difficult to keep running. They require additional care during the time of the year when grass grows less readily, lest you arrive at the springtime and the thing won’t start and you have to get a new lawn mower.
When you take too long between mowing lawns, the outlet that releases the newly clipped plant matter has too much plant matter to release, and gets clogged. You have to clear it out to continue with stunting your plants’ growth. To clear it out you have to stop the gas engine, lest you come into contact with the severely dangerous metal blade that spins wildly to sever each grass blade.
You may have to tip the lawn mower to the side in order to clear the outlet out. If you do this, the dangerous organic liquid you have to use the fuel the grass cutter might leak out, with all the threats to the local environment that come with that. Or it may stay contained but flood the engine, preventing you from being able to start the engine again.
The tools of the trade conspire against the trade.
Other living things around the grass conspire against the trade, too.
I took four bug bites on the last pass. One of them I saw was in fact a small yellow jacket.
None of the bites were severe, but they smart when I take them. The focus on the task at hand, for the moment, is shot.
This is, after all, about managing a gasoline engine running a massive metal blade. My yard is not level – there are hills hither and yon. (This is central Appalachia, after all.)
So here I go, pushing this gasoline engine and wildly rotating metal blade uphill. A yellow jacket resting on the grass I’m approaching is disturbed and is going to lash out at the first thing it senses that is causing that disturbance.
In this case, that is my groin.
I need to keep pushing this contraption that has all kinds of danger associated with it up this hill while I suddenly feel a very sharp pain directed entirely too close to my…dignity.
I ask you, is this any way for man to live? I think not.
Well, it’s done. I only took five breaks today, one break enforced by the flooding of the engine that kept the thing for starting back up for 30 minutes or so.
A yard of naturally-growing grasses and weeds, over entirely too much effort and not a small amount of angst, transformed into a somewhat managed and groomed lawn, just like the neighbors.
Tamed, you could even say.
Maybe I should mow more often.