Today is day four of my five-day spring break, and I spent it in yard work. As a general rule, I am not a yard person. It is difficult to see the point of mowing the lawn: in a week or two I will just have to do the whole thing again, so why do it the first time? I was inclined just to let the yard go, to be that neighbor, the one that makes all the other neighbors feel superior. That path led nowhere, for a couple of reasons.
The first is a tale of woe from a friend of mine, who was temporarily renting a house while his was being built, or renovated, or something. He was under the impression that the landlord was responsible for the lawn. He was wrong. It turns out there are lawn police in our fair town of Madison. (They probably don't go by that name. I'm thinking, Code Enforcement.) He was ticketed because his lawn needed mowing. That is when he discovered that care and upkeep of the lawn was his job.
Politically, I am a Libertarian, and the whole idea of a government issuing a citation just because your grass is a bit too high rubs me the wrong way. In solidarity with my friend, who, fortunately, is now in his own home not in the city limits, I planned to protest his $25 citation by letting my lawn go, and daring the city fathers to ticket me. That path lead headlong into the second reason why I don't let my yard go au naturel: Kathy wouldn't hear of it.
And so today found me changing the oil and spark plug in my trusty Troy-Bilt, buying a can of gas at the local Golden Pantry, and chasing Lucy around the yard with the mower.
I have learned to enjoy mowing the lawn. It does not require very much thought. I simply follow the line between the cut grass and the uncut grass, a job infinitely easier now that my cataract is gone. I breathe in the smell of spring (i.e., pollen), and let my mind wander.
And today my mind wandered back to October 25, 1992, six days before my 40th birthday. My wife at that time was adamant that I needed to babysit little baby Reilly, who was 11 months and six days old. I, on the other hand, had chores to do, not the least of which was mowing the weeds and ant hills that seem ever to constitute my yard. I suggested that I could babysit if I didn't mow the lawn. She objected: both needed doing. Something in her voice indicated that this was probably not the hill I should pick to die on, if I may be allowed to end a sentence with a preposition. Little did I know that she was planning a surprise birthday party for my 40th: come as your favorite dead person. (Little Reilly came as the Lindbergh baby.) She needed the lawn mowed, and she needed the freedom to go about her planning.
And so I came up with a solution to the problem, which you can see in the picture above, or the video below. I couldn't find safety glasses small enough for Reilly, but I was able to use some ear muffs as noise protectors. And I must say, while little Reilly did look genuinely confused about the whole thing, she took it in stride.
Ah, pleasant memories of yards I've mowed!