A Lawn Cutting Adventure

- jim Young

“I love the smell of lawn mower gasoline in the morning!” - adapted from a quote by Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore as played by Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now 

We are cutting our own lawn this year for the first time since we purchased our home in Loring. Al and Diena of the now defunct “Cottage Crew” have retired from the lawn cutting business and we wish them well in their retirement. The first time I cut the lawn however, I pondered if in fact, I had been paying them enough for this chore all these years?

However, as some of you may know I often like to turn “chores” into “adventures”. So with my 60s Che Guevara bandana proudly displayed on my head, I like to pretend I’m a biker on my way to Mardi-Gras.

In my mind, our Ariens riding lawn mower is an Indian motorcycle and although it may not be “The World’s Fastest Indian” it flies across our lawn like a “Bat Out Of Hell”.

As I speed across a sea of long grass I stir up the mosquitoes who are quick to attack. But within moments I notice I am being escorted by a swarm of Dragonflies and I swear I can hear "Ride Of the Valkyries” playing from the movie “Apocalypse Now” as I transform from a biker to a chopper pilot leading the tiny helicopters that are flanking me, into battle.

But that’s not as much fun as being a biker so I am quickly back on my way to Mardi-Gras.

As I cut the lawn I ponder the pros and cons of paying someone else to cut my lawn for me. Certainly it’s cheaper to have my lawn cut by someone else. I calculate it will take me 9 years to pay off the initial cost of our riding lawn mower. That doesn’t include gas, maintenance or my time. And what if it breaks down?

Then there was the added benefit of being able to watch Al and Diena do their work from the comfort of my deck, while sipping on an ice cold beer. I can watch other people work all day.

However there are benefits of cutting the lawn ourselves. For one, I enjoy it. Or at least I am enjoying it until the novelty wears off. We can decide how often and when to cut. Not that that was ever much of an issue with the Cottage Crew. 

We can also… wait a minute… flower alert! I notice a buttercup has somehow jumped into my path. My first instinct is to slam on the brakes, but of course an Arien has no brakes. Reverse is my brakes. However, reversing one side without reversing the other equally, puts the Arien into a tailspin and I find myself spinning backwards in circles like the Tilt-A-Whirl at the old Barrie Fair.

I miss the Barrie Fair, so that’s not a bad thing.

Pretty Things On Our Lawn

I don’t mind cutting the dandelions that I also love growing in my lawn as they quickly recover, but the buttercups will not survive a cutting.

As I continue about my task of cutting the lawn, I carefully avoid all buttercups, daisies and those little blue flowers. I don’t know what they’re called. They’re just pretty. And I like pretty things.

I would have been a sucker for trading beaver pelts for pretty beads in the early days of our country’s history. 

Little Mr. Toad is a little more difficult to avoid as he does not remain stationary. He hops across the lawn in front of me. I stop the mower and get off it to try and relocate him to safety, but now he’s nowhere to be found. Carefully moving forward, making sure he’s not in my path, I continue to make my rounds. On my next pass I am happy to see Mr. Toad hopping off into the safety of the bush.

Eventually playtime is over and my Indian/Arien is safely parked in the shed. I decide to inspect my work and set out to admire the buttercup I had left standing but am dismayed to see it is nowhere to be found. The daisies likewise have vanished and are no longer where I left them.

My Shirley has just finished her whipper snipping to trim the edges of the lawn where our lawnmower cannot reach.

“Did you whipper snip the buttercup?” I ask. 

As proudly as George Washington confessing to chopping down his father’s favourite cherry tree, My Shirley admitted she had.

“Yes, I did.”

"And the daisies?”

“Did you not want those cut?” she asks innocently. “I wondered how you had missed them.”

I dreaded the next question. “Not Mr. Toad? You didn’t whipper snip Mr. Toad?”

“I never saw any toads,” My Shirley replied. “But I wouldn't have hurt him if I had.”

Who knew lawn cutting would be such a complicated affair? Apparently, like most things in a marriage, lawn cutting requires team communication.

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