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Varied thoughts and ponderings while laboring behind a lawn mower

Updated on September 2, 2010

The answer my friend....


There are so many questions in need of answers and so many situations wanting solutions…I ponder these as I work laboriously at the weekly task of shaving my huge lawn. (It IS like shaving, isn’t it?) Every day brings another quandary; another worry; another concern. Each time I tackle this job, I think of the good times and my good fortune, too …how lucky I am to be here, how gorgeous is this environment and how freeing it is living in an un-crowded area such as this.

As I proceed with this physically challenging task, the strong wind at my back is a boon yet, when I turn the corner to travel in the opposite direction, the wind becomes my adversary; fighting against all effort to move; in consort, it seems, with the ever thickening mat of tall grass before me. As my body fights the wind and sod, my mind travels in many directions, considering that which effects my daily life. Not all subjects under scrutiny are earthshaking and, certainly, most are worked out as I pace back and forth, back and forth across hundreds of feet of green carpet. So, to those unsettled queries, and the unsolved mysteries of life; I say:

The answer, my friend, is mowing in the wind; the answer is mowing in the wind…

I find myself laughing out loud at some of the thoughts that spring to mind while mowing. I thought, “hey, I think I’ll just write a series of funny as well as contemplative musings. I bet I can make the readers laugh…and I hope I touch on things which are common to all of us; empathy is a big deal to me. I can see it now…"

I often think about empathy. To me, this is the most cherished of human emotions. To actually feel for another, to share in their emotional experiences, in their life’s reality, is a gift beyond measure. I believe this is a rare trait. Not many possess the true ability, or willingness, to relate to another so deeply. And, empathy is not easily evoked. It must be naturally felt; rising to the occasion almost unconsciously . We walk through this life acting out roles, projecting our “selves” for the most part. When faced with another’s dilemma, we offer terms thought to be appropriate and gesture in expected ways. But, true empathy is a gift; one which is wonderful to receive and exceptional to give.

When anger enters the picture while traipsing across this large expanse of green at first, it boils up. Upset! Disappointment! These emotions are strong but, their intensity lessens with each step. At first, lecturing, chiding, “dressing down” is the emphasis of these thoughts. “I’m going to….!” “This is such a bunch of….!” “I can’t believe….!“ Before I know it, though, the anger has subsided, the language has softened and the matter does not seem quite as large an issue. In no time, that particular point of contention has dissipated, perhaps solved; certainly disarmed.

Many might say that I am the ultimate “green” gardener….Yes, it is true, specially after I’ve spent 3 hours hand mowing wet grass which is sprayed all over my arms, legs and body by my mulching mower! When I walk away from a job well done, I am covered in dewy blades of grass which stick to shoes, clothes and body. A sight to behold!

Recently, during grass cutting, I almost ran over the hugest frog I have ever seen. He must have weighed 10 pounds! His skin felt slick and wet, and it appeared iridescent, casting off greens, blues, purples, yellows and more. He had powerful legs and alien looking eyes. I stopped abruptly, my heart pounding at the thought that I had almost dismembered this beautiful amphibian. I called Al and, together, we hiked the frog to our smaller, nearer pond where he gleefully leapt from our hands into the welcoming water. Later that day, as I was shopping, I reached into the frozen foods section, looking for a quick meal of 'spuds, french fries or vegies and, right there in front of my eyes were packages of frog legs!! I stepped back in disgust having now experienced an intimate relationship with a frog! (I have never, nor will I ever eat frog legs!!) I fear my new pond inhabitant’s legs are MUCH larger and firmer than those I held in my hand. I put the package back into deep freeze and promised myself that I shall NEVER divulge the existence of or the whereabouts of my new friend! Never!

My favorite part of mowing is the fresh, crisp “clip-clipping” of the grass when it snaps as my mower moves over it. I feel a certain satisfaction at this sound. I relish it! I imagine it to be clean; an exact action. Certain areas of the lawn perform better than others. As I approach these, I feel almost excited! I can’t wait to hear it! As the mower moves over these areas, I hear a resounding snap, crackle, pop!

Sometimes, when I think about starting another bout with the lawn, the anticipation is terrible. The thought of it tires me and I wonder how long and how many times can I do this. As with so many things, the anticipation can be so much more...! than the reality.  But, once begun, as always, it is easier and easier and before long, I’m half way there and, we all know what that means!!

The weather is increasingly becoming warmer and more humid which makes mowing more difficult. This morning began windy and cool. I had energy to spare and a little of the back acreage remained uncut because I ran out of gas last evening. I jumped out of bed at 6 am, took a walk up and down the road just to see the wildflowers in the morning light, and decided, “hey, it’s cool and comfortable but the temperature is supposed to reach the mid 90’s….I think I’ll finish the lawn!” Al was sleeping, as were all the kitties and the new member of our family, “Honey.” (I’ll let al tell you about her) I went into the garage, rolled out the Briggs & Stratten 5.5 HP, 22” wide machine and started it up. I’d let Honey out in the back which, were we living in the city, would have caused multiple calls to the local police. She howled and yipped! I started mowing, hoping to beat the actual burning rays as the sun continued to climb in the sky. Practically running around the perimeter of unshaven grass, I finished just as that part of the yard lit up! Al was up and laughing when I marched into the house, already perspiring and looking a bit like the (not so) Jolly Green Giant. But, I beat the heat and finished the job just in time! It was so cool to be up and ’at ’em’ so early in the day! I felt so healthy and energetic. The rest of this day has followed suit….it’s been a great day so far!

 Kathy Novelli


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    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi Augustine...what a lovely comment; this is how lucky I am...I completely know what you mean when saying that "Most of the dialogue for the Well of Wishes play was done in my head doing chores."

      Mowing is a very contemplative time if we choose to use it so. Have I read Well of Wishes? I will rush right over to your site after posting this make sure I have.

      Yes, empathy...feelings...true passion...depth of feeling/experience/compassion/joy....all have been downplayed in the face of 'irony,' 'sarcasm,' and cynicism..and, surely, no one wants to be caught "off guard" or vulnerable...alas; this is what we've come to think of as 'cool' or 'clued in.'

      I appreciate that you still walk in a wonderful world of honest (my word..can't come up w/another that better describes what I'm attempting to convey)..experience. Good for you.

      Much regards and appreciation. OH, BTW...too late for planting corn! and the barn's already up..built in 1905 but, honestly, I had nothing to do with that. LOL.


    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 6 years ago from Texas

      Kathy, your like a pioneer woman. Rescuing cats, mowing lawns, racing in your vintage BMW. How do you have the energy to get it all done? Can I get it at Wholefoods?

      I enjoy and hate mowing the lawn. I enjoy it because I listen to my mp3 player, and my mind wanders at the same time. Most of the dialogue for the Well of Wishes play was done in my head doing chores.

      Empathy is so lacking in this day and age. When I was growing up, there were after school specials about it, cartoons, commercials. Now? Maybe a commercial from the Latter day Saints may touch on it.

      Well, I'll let you get back to your chores. I'm sure you'll be needing the daylight to plant corn or build a barn.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Sally..I agree with you 100%..empathy is such an important and needed emotion. To feel deeply for another's experiences...and for that person to know they are "not alone," is very very valuable. Your son sounds like a fabulous young man..what a gem! You obviously have been a wonderful mother to him.

      Did he know the word empathy? Certainly, he felt it and acted on the definition just falls into place once given voice.

      Thank you my friend, I MUST find time to catch up on your writing!

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

      Enjoyed this hub! Someimes I do my best thinking while doing routine chores. Interesting tidbit about empathy (and maybe that is how I landed on this hub today). My youngest has lots to live up to - not really an identity crisis - but close at times. On the way home today in the car, he was telling me about a boy at school and problems he was having at home. My son said, "He was never a friend - but I understand him more now. I'm going to be his friend." I complimented him and asked him if he knew the word empathy.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Thank you epigramman! I appreciate your kind words!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ...I will mow your lawn anyday so you can sit down and relax and have a nice lemonade in the shade and think your beautiful thoughts - and one of which is - how lucky all of the cats in your world are because they have someone as special as you! They are truly blessed.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hoite, I can tell by your response that you could write an incredibly great story about your experiences! "Cutting remarks!" See? that's great!

      Dorsi...your writing is great fun and I really enjoy it!

    • profile image

      Hoite Caston 7 years ago

      Boy, did I identify 100% with your beautifully written ode to Zen and the Art of Mowing. For years I mowed my lawn at the house I grew up in here in Independence, which was built by my great grandfather and grandmother in 1881. I began with an old brand new rotary hand mower, advancing to pushing gas powered blades around its expansive two lots in my teens. That job stopped when I went away to college but resumed when I returned home from Los Angeles in 1995, primarily to give my daughter, who is going to be married later this month, a proper Midwestern upbringing. Until I hurt my back a year ago, I had the same approach/avoidance pleasure of traveling those familiar therapeutic paths of clipping and contemplation again as an aging adult, stirring up memories and, like you, solving my and the worlds problems as I once more smoothed out the cover of the literal "holy" ground, which was filled in prior to building the house by the blessed diggings from the basement of St. Andrews Catholic Church just down the street. Thanks to your inspiring "cutting remarks", I am now motivated to re-take the responsibility of that meaningful march around my house, again.

    • profile image

      DoorMattnomore 7 years ago

      I love this!!! I think while mowing, or any other repetitive work too. Its like therapy. I agree with you about empathy. Many many people have told me that I am "too sensitive", or "its not your problem"...but I think if more people were "too sensitive", we would have much more peace in this world.