Friday, May 4, 2012

Lawn Care

When I become a wealthy and powerful historian, things will be different.

Hey – it could happen.  I understand someone paid Newt Gingrich 350 large to serve as a “historical consultant,” and if a guy whose main contribution to American politics is to serve as a living, breathing punchline can pull in that kind of money, imagine what a real historian could make.

Not that real historians make any money, mind you.  Fake ones do – I can think of several off the top of my head who are darlings of the same folks who paid Nuclear Newt the Nutjob all that cash – but not the real ones.  It’s the difference between Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling and Hulk Hogan.  The Olympians are athletes, but Hulk is a millionaire.  Or used to be.  Which brings us back to Newt, which means this whole introduction has gone nowhere.

Different.  Right.  Where was I going with that?

Things will be different, when I have money and power.  That’s where.

When I am a wealthy and powerful historian, I will pay other people to maintain my property.  No more will I have to pretend to understand what the difference is between the multitudes of metal objects thrown into the big bin in the basement – some competent soul will sort them by size and function, and when there is a task to be done they will find just the right one and do it.  And I will pay them money, and we will both be happy.

I will also never mow my own lawn again.

When we first moved into our house here in Our Little Town we had a push-mower, a reel-type hand-powered cutting device straight out of the 1940s, probably literally as it originally belonged to Kim’s grandmother.  It made a pleasant swishing sound and was utterly fabulous, and it had the happy side effect of completely flustering the neighborhood children.  In this gearhead town nobody could conceive of a lawnmower without an engine, and eventually they decided it was some kind of rake.

Given how blunt the cutting edges were, they were not all that far off.

Eventually, though, it became clear that even with the postage-stamp-sized lawn that we had, this mower was not going to cut it, figuratively or literally.  For one thing, keeping the blades sharp was beyond me.  And for another, you have to keep the lawn very short, otherwise this kind of mower bogs down.  Since this meant cutting the lawn with some regularity, obviously it never happened. 

At some point borrowing the neighbor’s gas-powered lawnmower again becomes sort of embarrassing, and we bought one of our own.

It works fine, despite me.

Every spring I haul it out and briefly wonder if I remembered to perform whatever maintenance procedures one has to do to keep them fit and ready during the winter months before realizing that since I have no idea what those procedures are the odds of my having performed them are minimal.  But it starts right up, on the fourth or fifth try – a fair trade, I think – and I set about cutting the grass, which by that time has grown nearly knee high because otherwise I just can’t be bothered.

The real problem with mowing my lawn, even with mechanized help, is that there are entirely too many obstacles for a lawn as small as this one.  The swingset has finally crumbled into kindling so I no longer have to worry about that, but in its place is now a chicken-wire enclosure for the rabbits and a wooden glider that I spent a weekend roundly cursing and bruising myself upon while assembling.  It’s nice to have now, but it is still an obstacle.  The ten-foot tall 4x4 post for the zipline is still there, though the zipline has gone the way of all toys aimed at lighter folk.  And the front lawn is festooned with random patches of daisies.

All these I can see.  What I always miss, however, are the random patches of other things.

I am not Nature Boy.

In my mind, there are only a limited number of types of plants.  There are trees.  There are flowers of varying sizes, all of which can be lumped together under the catch-all heading of “garbloondia” and sorted by color.  There are vegetables, which are found in gardens and identifiable as the corpses underneath the weed, which are whatever grows after what you want dies off.  There are bushes, which are a minimum of three feet tall or they don’t count.  And there is grass, which is spiky and green.

That’s it.

This is why we no longer have tarragon.

Kim loves plants.  She understands them.  She looks forward to growing them.  And she puts them in the darndest places, because she can see them there. 

Somewhere along the line we acquired a cherry tree, which we planted right next to the garage so that in fifteen or twenty years we can get a new garage to replace the one the roots and branches of the cherry tree have destroyed.  And, much to my later surprise, at the base of this tree Kim planted tarragon. 

Which I promptly mowed down.

In my defense, tarragon is apparently spiky and green and thus indistinguishable from the grass I was supposed to be mowing down.  Kim just looks sad when I say things like that.

When I am a wealthy and powerful historian, I will pay someone who can tell the difference between tarragon and grass to mow the lawn.


lexorjoy31 said...
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David said...

I do not allow advertising on this site.

Gristle McThornbody said...

Although Kim has my deepest sympathy as you ravage her favorite plants, you also get a pass from me on this one. I have a good sized, fenced-in garden in the backyard here in town and just last week was out pulling "weeds." I figure almost anything that looks like grass is fair game and must die. Unfortunately, I also plant a lot of things that have grass-like foliage. I must have yanked out three or four good handfuls of something I took great pains to plant last year before I realized it was coming out of the ground much, much easier than grass usually does. Siiiiggggghhhhh. Well, there's still a lot of it left, whatever it is.

David said...

Kim has learned not to ask me to weed her garden unsupervised. Last year I pulled out a fair bit of something that was supposed to turn into a vegetable eventually but was in its green and spiky grass-like stage.

The great outdoors just does not figure into my definition of an ideal day in any meaningful way.

Dr. Phil (Physics) said...

I stopped mowing a few years ago -- we raise Monarch butterflies during the summer now.

Dr. Phil

David said...

That sounds lovely, Phil.

For myself, I have simply learned to accept dandelions as a spring flower.

Rufus Dogg said...

As soon as I could walk, I had to mow the lawn in the house my parents forced me to grow up in. We had one of those reel mowers with the heavy, wooden virgin-growth forest wood for a handle. When we "upgraded" to a lightweight steel model, it was heaven. I breezed through the lawn. The house was in the inner city of St. Paul, so the lawn was not all that big. Besides, my dad planted a Victory garden on most of the back yard.. yeah, I grew up hating pretty much anything that grew.

Then I escaped and for the next almost decade, I did not have to mow a lawn. Yay! Until I bought a house in the suburbs on 3/4 of an acre. That required a riding mower. And then I moved to Dayton (Englewood) and downsized to a 1/8 acre. For the past 22 yrs, I have mowed the lawn with some version of a power mower -- punctuated by brief periods of reprieve when I was able to scare on of my kids into mowing -- hating every minute of the task. Since the last of my indentured... er... I mean kids left two years ago and every other kid in my neighborhood is either unskilled or lazy, I am stuck mowing the lawn again. This year, I decided I'm not doing it.. I now pay some company a small fortune to do it for me.

I do the same for the gardens. I pay some old guy to rip up the weeds and put down the mulch. For the past five years, I've played a game I invented called "Shrub or Not." If it is a shrub, it can stay. If it is not, it gets ripped up and thrown away.. or mysteriously dies... (oh, yeah, there is a lot of shrugging and confused looks when confronted...)

I hope to sell my house soon and never, never, never, never ever spend another moment of my life mowing another lawn ever. Life is too damn short to mow. I just wish I had learned that earlier.

David said...

It's never too late to learn. :)

I'm always threatening to pave the lawn and paint it green (though I'd probably paint a dandelion on it, just for old times sake). But if Kim digs it all up for a garden, that would work too.

Rufus Dogg said...


True story!!

I was attending a training conference in Wash DC in Jan 1991 when Gulf I broke out. I was flying back to Dayton and sat next to this one guy who was on his way back from Kuwait. The usual "what line of work are you in" convo ensued. Turns out, he was in charge of painting the sand along the highways green because some study said that greenery was calming and reassuring or some other such nonsense. You can't make this stuff up!

So, go ahead, pave and paint! Government approved!

David said...

Oh, that's priceless. :)

Do you suppose he was painting the roses red, too?

Off with his head!