Monday, June 30, 2014

Zen and the Art of Lawn Maintenance

An old-school tool

This morning I was rudely shaken from sleep at an ungodly hour by the hellish drone of an electric mower and the madness-inducing non-syncopation of the electric trimmer being used by some lawn care bandits outside my bedroom window. Trying to describe the noise would be pointless, suffice it to say that if the Amazon Basin were populated entirely by robot insects, it might sound a lot like this.

Certainly, I can see the point of electronic lawn care tools: they do the job fast, which is one reason lawn care bandits use them. The ones my landlord employs to “care” for my lawn wield their tools with impunity, mowing down every living thing within reach of the twirling neon-yellow plastic wire, often leaving shards of it behind among the piles of clippings.

They usually use a hand-held trimmer to cut the lawn, which is the wrong tool for the job: parts are left burned to the dirt; others remain tufts which simply escaped notice. Not content to just cut the grass, they also make sure to reach over to my well-manicured and fenced-in herb garden to buzz-off the chives to the root, probably thinking them a particularly robust patch of grass. The young tree they “trimmed” last year with the edger died. It didn’t require trimming. It did, however, require leaves.

In order to combat this kind of monkey business, I took matters into my own hands and bought an old-fashioned push mower. The one we had when I was a kid was rust brown and didn’t cut; rather, it chewed the grass it stubbornly rolled over, like a primitive cow. This new one, however, has nice sharp blades, and works like a charm. It slices the grass rather than twists it, making a really even, healthy lawn.

But the benefits extend far beyond that. There’s the quiet for one. The savings on electricity and/or gas. The ease of storage. And also the exercise; walking it back and forth in rows allows time for contemplation while engaging in a productive task — much like all of the “primitive” household tasks I enjoy, like cooking, washing dishes, and weeding.

"Push it / push it real good"

It not only makes the lawn look good — it makes the man mowing it look good too. It offers the occasion for romance; you can bring him an ice-cold glass of refreshing lemonade half-way through, which he will accept with a grateful smile, wipe the sweat from his brow, and drink. He will think I am a lucky man, and you will think I am a lucky woman, and life — and the lawn — will be perfect.

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