In observance of the first day of summer, an ode to my lawn mower

2018-07-10T08:30:09+00:00 June 21st, 2018|

By Bert Stratton

I didn’t used to like to cut my grass. I made my children do it, but then they grew up​,​ moved away, and I got the job. ​Now I like the work. I like the meditative-ness of walking in ever smaller rectangles around my yard in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I don’t get carried away with edging. I have limits.

I like the meditative-ness of walking in ever smaller rectangles around my yard in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I don’t get carried away with edging. I have limits.

I own a 33-inch-wide mulching mower, a 1995 Troy-Bilt from Troy, New York (the factory is long gone). It has an 8.5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine. The machine is a beast. I told the lawn mower repair guy it was a professional model. He laughed. He said it was an amateur model. But it’s still pretty big. My wife can’t control it. I bought the mower from a neighbor 17 years ago. It was​ cheaper than a Harley-Davidson.

An Englishman, Edwin Budding, invented the lawn mower in 1830. Before that it was all about scythes. When I’m cutting grass, I am reminded of my ancestors’ agrarian past.​ Deep past.​ I really like cutting during dandelion season, when ​I see quick, qualitative results.

Photo credit: Deutsche Fotothek‎ via Wikimedia Commons

I don’t cut the grass every week like the pros do. They show up even when they’re not needed. I cut as necessary — every week in the spring and once a month in the hottest​ months. I have the blades sharpened every five years. I should probably do​ that​ more often.

One day I hit a rock. I thought that might signal my final cut, but I got a sledgehammer and banged the blades back into alignment. Next, the metal deck rusted out and I had a welder patch it.

I wear noise-reducing headphones, glasses, a hat and biking gloves. Not very pro looking, but good enough for ​an amateur. And I wear a long-sleeved shirt in case I run into bushes, which I always do.

Every spring I wonder if my mower will make it. This spring I tugged the starter cord about 20 times to kick off the season. That did a ​number on my back. I probably should have had the mower tuned up. But like I said,  I don’t want to get obsessive about the machine. Also, the mower’s governor (which regulates the “cruise control” of the engine) is a little slower this season for some reason, but then so am I. Good.

When my lawn mower conks out — and it better before I do — I hope​ I have the equanimity​ to ​welcome the change. I’ll welcome the landscaping guys with their loud leaf blowers and edgers and shiny black cargo trailers emblazoned with mottos like “We Are Your Lawn Stylist.”

I don’t need a stylist. Let ’er rip.

 

Banner photo: via Flickr/AdamKR.

Bert Stratton has contributed to The New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Plain Dealer and City Journal. He has won two Hopwood Awards. He blogs at Klezmer Guy.

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One Comment

  1. Ben June 25, 2018 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Fantastic writing

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