Tall, dry spindly things are poking up out of the lawn and I’m seriously concerned about them. I swear they’re talking smack every time I walk by—saying things like, “You think you can take us down? Really?” And that’s when I just go crazy and start training at water aerobics for 50 minutes a day, twice a week—making fists with my hands in the water—just picturing how I’ll run over their faces. In fact, they’re hanging with an even rougher crowd of dry blades of grass, and if I’m not careful, I believe they could spark a pesky infestation of “city nuisance” signs. In other words, our lawn looks ever so slightly atrocious and it’s time to cut those taunting spindly things down—along with the overgrown blades of grass. Thank goodness we have a lawn mower.
Mowing the lawn is usually Nate’s job, but I’m dangerously low on DIY blog ideas, so I decide I’ll cut the grass this week and perhaps offer a few useful tips. Then, it occurs to me that I’ve never mowed the lawn before—except for the time when I was about eight years old and I rode with my dad on his “tractor”-sized lawnmower, which had two speeds: bunny and turtle. Oh, the thrill when I realized that “bunny” speed was not that much faster than “turtle” speed! That’s probably why it took my dad an entire afternoon and several beers to complete the job, but he never looked upset. It’s like he actually looked forward to riding around all day and drinking beer. Unfortunately, our yard—front and back—is not large enough to warrant the use of a riding mower or several trips to the fridge for beer. Instead, Nate typically uses an electric mower and a weed “wacker” and he’s going to show me how to use them—for the front lawn only. Baby steps. We must take baby turtle steps—we’re not ready to go hopping around with the lithe speed of bunnies just yet.
1) Wear sturdy shoes that cover your toes. I learned this tip as part of a 4-H safety- speaking contest. When I was twelve years old, I gave expert advice on how to safely mow the lawn, EVEN THOUGH I HAD NEVER MOWED A LAWN. When giving safety speeches for 4-H, the rules always state that contestants must use a “local statistic,” which could consist of a cautionary tale about someone in the contestant’s family. I chose my dad, who mixed a bunch of chemicals together and put them into his lawnmower when he was a child. He was trying to make it go faster. (Back then, they didn’t have “bunny” speed. The choices were: dinosaur or fern.) In any case, it went faster for a little while and then I think it exploded, but I don’t remember the speech very well. I won the contest and went to districts, but I blew it when I got the giggles for no reason at all and started laughing, right during a part of my speech that was not supposed to be funny. I learned my lesson: Exploding lawn mowers are not funny. That’s why you should wear sturdy shoes—so you can run fast in case of an explosion—and so that the blades of the mower don’t cut your toes off.
2) Check the area for twigs and branches and stones. Branches, logs, stones, bicycles, toys, and inflatable pools wreak havoc on a lawnmower. Remove all of these things from the yard before mowing.
3) Get to know your lawnmower. I tried to convince Nate that maybe I could ride the electric mower and place a cup holder in it for beer, but an electric mower is not a riding mower. Safety first—always. The kind of mower we have requires a battery that has to be charged and then I just push a button, lift a lever and start mowing in a kind of circular fashion around the yard. It’s actually sort of fun, but I look like a novice for sure. Cars from the neighborhood slow down to see what I’m doing. I think they’re taking pictures for the neighborhood Facebook page. The caption probably says, “The most unprofessional grass cutter I’ve ever seen. It’s like it’s her first day on the job. Do NOT hire her.”
4) Make sure people are not standing in the yard while you are mowing. For some reason, Nate kept bending over in front of me to pull extra weeds that the lawnmower and weed “wacker” won’t reach, but he has no idea how tempted I was to harass him with the lawnmower.
When I finish, I’m so proud of myself, I suggest we do the back yard, which has a super steep hill.
“Come on—it’s not that bad,” I say as I walk up and down the hill.
“You really want to try it?” Nate asks.
Nate has me turn off the lawnmower and walk with it to the highest point of the incline and mimic mowing the lawn.
“Yeah—this isn’t happening,” I say. “It’s like the mower wants to pull me sideways down the hill and the neighbor’s house is like right there. I’ll end up on the Facebook page for sure.”
I hand the mower back over to my local statistic expert.
As I cross back over to the front yard, I see a stray spindly thing that I truly believe is mocking me, so I grab it by the neck, lean down and whisper menacingly in its ear, saying,
“I’ll be back and if you think the little electric lime green mower isn’t good enough for you, just wait until I trick it out with racing stripes, ergonomic seats, cup holders, and two speeds: bunny and lightning bunny.”
Your Turn: What’s a chore you normally don’t do? (Either you hire someone to do it or you have someone else in your house do it.)