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.
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.
Belt Magazine is not-for-profit and member-supported. To support more independent writing and journalism made by and for the people of the Rust Belt, become a member of Belt Magazine starting at just $5 a month.