5 Observations While Mowing

This morning, after doing some classwork and working on a writing project, I set out to mow the front yard for the first time this year (did the back yard last weekend). I decided to make a mental note about five things and to fix them here rather than letting them slip away.

1. If you mow over a pile of dried rose briers and snag one of the W-shaped branches on the edge of your blade casing, it will drag along for several circuits, defying the peach tree you let it brush against, the catalpa tree, and the cedar. You are curious how long this can last, how secure it has latched itself and whether it’s the thorns that keep it so lodged, bouncing along the uneven lawn. Finally, you get too close to half a bale of dried straw that has been sitting on the edge of the basketball court throughout the winter, and the thorn rolls off with a wad of straw as if it’s finally found its long-lost love. There it will sit until a strong wind moves it or you blast over it next week when you come out to mow again.

2. The lilac bush still holds some blossoms, pale blue with brown edges. It does not look healthy. I’ve seen many bigger lilac trees than this one, which has been about five feet tall for years. A sturdy but dead-looking branch juts out and threatens to catch your shoulder as I pass. Why won’t it grow? What fault of soil or self makes this sweetest smelling of bushes struggle so? Compared to the peach tree, just a few feet away, our lilac looks dazed.

3. I wanted to save the patches of blue-lavender violets from the blade, but I also wanted to clip the mini-sunflowers–Philadelphia Fleabane, probably. This presents a problem: raise the blade? Forego the violets? Leave the whole patch, violates and fleabane alike? In the end just mowing a swath here and there through the patch seemed to do the trick. Sacrificed a few of the innocent for elimination of the guilty. What does this say about me!

4. Mowing the edge of the yard so that the grass flies into the road or driveway leaves a mess. I’m not much of a yard-keeper, but I can’t stand a film of mown grass in the road, so after I mow it out, away from the culvert I don’t want clogged with dried grass, I then go out into the road and blow it back in. This sounds crazy, but my theory says that this way less of the grass is actually blown into the culvert than a direct hit, filtered by the two feet or so of grass that catches stray clippings as I fly by. As to the driveway, a bunch of dried grass will just track into the house. No need to multiply the things that float around the floors of my house.

5. Mowing the yard, while seemingly a mindless activity, actually requires a complex series of decisions, problems to determine proper solutions for, passing whimsies, rambling reflections, and of course the rising and falling of aromas–the lilac tree, the grass itself, the dried straw, gasoline, exhaust (not even going to let myself think about pollution today), wild onion, clover. I’ve said it before and I say it again now: I like to mow the yard. Someone else can clean house.

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