The Joy Of Mowing The Lawn
When we moved into our 1950's rancher on just under 2 acres about a year and a half ago, we asked that the owners leave the John Deere riding mower as part of the deal, since most of the property was a huge lawn that would take days to mow with a push mower. They did, and one of my buddies pointed out that we'd never have a problem getting the lawn mowed because even if my teenage boy lost interest in using the riding mower, every jealous guy in town would line up to take turns. That hasn't quite been the case, but I certainly have appreciated having it, even though it's seen it's better days.
Turns out that my 14 year old did indeed love using it to mow the lawn...most of the time. The mower's blades were pretty dull, and the feeder tube to the catch bags got clogged pretty easy, making the job a pain if the grass was even the slightest bit damp. Also, the mower deck had a connecting bar that had been bent or broken, that caused the entire attachment to sometimes drag a little too low to the ground, and with big tree roots showing around the edge of the property, the deck began to take too many hits, and eventually rubbed against the ground. All of these conditions made the task of mowing the lawn less glamorous by the week, and eventually I found myself taking some of the shifts, just to prove that the mower still worked for the task.
On one particular day, I decided it was actually pretty nice to be on the mower for a couple of hours. Working in technology all day long, my nose was always buried in some sort of screen or display, with notifications flashing on any number of them at any time. I turned the ringer off on my iPhone, plugged in some headphones, cranked up a favorite playlist, and took off around the property. At first I began thinking of all the work I'd need to do once I was back to my command center, but eventually I started thinking about things that needed to be done around the property. Neither of the lists were especially fun to dwell on, and before long I just stopped thinking about stuff altogether and enjoyed the simple task of cutting grass, listening to some of my favorite music while doing so.
As I turned the machine around the circle of the huge front yard I could inspect the place I had just mowed. Were my new tracks just inside my old tracks? Was I mulching enough grass back into the lawn? Did I have the right height adjustment on the mower set? Really, none of those questions mattered much after a while either, and it was simply a matter of going by feel. Me and the mower, both of us knocking out a simple chore. But one that so many of us hate to tackle. So many of us add the, "I HAVE to mow the lawn today," to our list of things to do, and say so without much love. But this opportunity to do one simple thing -- mow the grass -- turned out to be a nice break from the 'real world' we typically end up living in.
I'm not going to get down on technology and cell phones and tablets and computers -- I love them all. I make my living from them, and I know they have a place in many areas of our lives. But I'm becoming more convinced every day that we were made to work the earth with our hands. In whatever small ways we can, we should make that connection with the land we literally live on. I hear about more and more friends who want to plant something, or tend something, or grow something however they can. In our town more people are pushing to be able to raise chickens in their backyards, which fortunately we can do outside of city limits with no city ordinance. But everyone I seem to talk to always points out how much they feel live they've really done something good after working in the earth with their own hands.
I realize that riding a lawn mower around a couple of acres isn't the same as working a pick axe down a drainage line for hours on end, but I don't get to ride in a giant combine to cultivate acres and acres of corn either. THIS is the piece land I have, and this is the tool that helps me accomplish that simple, yet fantastic task of mowing the lawn. I still want for my son to mow the lawn each week, it's really good for him. But when he can't for whatever reason, I don't mind lending a hand, or taking on the task all alone. It's one of the few times in the week where I really get to tune out the extra noise and just appreciate the place I live.