The Lawnmower (Wo)Man

Monday, September 6, 2010

Call me spoiled.  Or girly.  Or the baby of the family.  (All three would be apropos.)   But I have never mowed the lawn.  I do have a lawnmower - a housewarming gift from my parents - but heretofore the bright green self-propelled Lawnboy with the detachable clippings-catcher bag has been propelled by my dad.  But seeing as how the lawn looked like this:
The grass has reached new heights.
Crop circles are really just aliens' way of telling us we need to mow.

And because the overall curbview of my house was starting to look a little bit unkempt and had me worrying that the neighbors I don't know on the left side might start leaving nastygrams in my mailbox or spray-painting "Cut Me" on the front lawn because it looked like this:
What's up, ghetto lawn?
I decided that today might be the day that I learn to push the lawnmower.  I enlisted the instruction of the world's most experienced lawn mower who has been mowing lawns for eons and covered enough acreage on the Berry College campus (just ask him) to have dulled the blades of at least 87 farm implements: my dad.

We rolled the mower out of my basement and went over the basics.  The little lever you have to grab to crank it.  The best approach to pulling the start cord hard and fast enough to turn the engine over and the squeeze bar that controls the self-propellage.  Grabbing the lever as instructed, I pulled the cord through til I felt resistance and then gave it a yank.  Nothing.  Dad suggested I straighten my left arm out.  So I stood up and held my left arm out in front of me Macarena-style which caused Dad to double over in laughter.  "What?" I asked, perplexed.  He nudged me to the side, depressed the lever, and holding his left arm straight for leverage, gave the cord a mighty yank, immediately starting the mower.  "Oh."  After a few unsuccessful attempts, I was able to get it started.  "NOW WHAT?!" I yelled over the motor.  Dad gestured to the overgrown yard like the world was my oyster, looked at my determined face, thought better of the "have at it" approach and directed me toward a rather straight patch close to the house that would be hidden by bushes if I totally butchered it.  But I didn't! 
Obligatory action shot captured by Mom

Dad made me shut off the mower to give me a few tips, and then I had to start it again.  Uh-oh.  Seriously, you've got to yank that cord from here to Mississippi to get the dratted thing to work.  Hello, lower back pain.  Hello, totally out of shapeness.  Hello, I look really stupid trying to start a lawnmower.
Look at me with my straight left arm!

I learned a few things today while mowing.
  •  That self-propelled thing is garbage.  There was pushing involved.
  • However, if you squeeze the bar hard enough, it will propel, and you will find yourself racing along behind a totally out-of-control Lawnboy.
  • Mom said I would learn to make the lawnmower work for me, but today, the lawnmower won.
  • It is best to close your mouth when removing and dumping the clipping bag.
  • I'm pretty sure that I have muscles in my butt that have never been used before today.  Let's hope that in addition to trimming the lawn, I can get some tush-toning out of this arrangement.
  • We're going to need some Rogaine for this bald patch stat.
  • If you lose control of the mower when it's going over, say the edge of the drainage ditch, it is possible to scalp your grass.
  • It is cruel, cruel fate when you choke the motor with your ridiculously long grass for the 57th time and remember that you requested a key-start mower to avoid the aggressive cord-yanking rigmarole.  And there, gleaming in the afternoon sun, after you've finished the back and front yard and pushed through to finish the side yard, is a key zip-tied to the handle.
With God as my witness, I will never go yanky again.

The shorn backyard in all its glory.
That, my friends, is a well cut lawn.


Katherine Strate said...

haha! This is amazing. It looks great! I had never mowed a lawn either until last summer, and it was definitely an experience! Once my roommate and I got it cranked up, I just stood there and said, "NOW WHAT?!?!?" It is kind of exhilarating to see the tall grass go under and then come out short. I also share the embarrassment of the mower cutting off because it gets too much tall grass stuck in it. Oops. :)
I'm glad we can share lawn-mowing stories, though. And I love that you shared this special experience with your Daddy. (who had a VERY busy weekend what with sand box building and lawn mowing!)

ashley said...

Yes, my poor dad had a busy weekend. He really took that Labor Day weekend stuff seriously.

jenn said...

Hooray for your first mowing! I still have yet to mow a lawn myself, but once I do, I'm sure the same hilarity will ensue.

Anonymous said...


As an experienced yardman, I can say that once you learn to enjoy the chore of mowing the lawn a whole world opens up for you.

When I was a kid and had three lawns to mow in the neighborhood, in addition to my own, I learned quickly to let me mind wander as the noise from the mower drowned out everything else. I still look forward to mowing the lawn as an escape from the daily humdrum that is life and allow myself the 30 minutes (60 if I have to edge and use the weed eater).

P.S. to avoid the tall grass from getting stuck it's best to overlap the lawn mower about 1/3-1/2 of the previous cut. This gives the mower some space for that extra tall/thick grass. It might take a little longer, but it saves you from having to yank or turn the key as the case might be.

JennyRay said...

I love mowing the grass!!! In fact until this summer, Nick had never mowed our lawn. I would always stake my claim to mowing on "work in the yard day". I even mowed while pregnant! ;)
Like the other comment...I enjoy letting my mind wander while weaving back and forth. I also always get this "natural high" from mowing. It makes me feel so strong to cut the grass! Like I've conquered something big! (Maybe the "high" is from the gas fumes, though.)

ashley said...

I can definitely see how the quiet time and contemplation will be welcome after I master the mower. It's very methodical - and I do love to zone out! :)

Tempe said...

I heart your adorable house. That is all.

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