Saturday, July 14, 2012

I Fought The Lawn and The Lawn Won

The plan is a simple plan and the execution of the plan depends on how hot it gets and how exhausted I get, which are related. The limb that fell has to be removed before I can mow, and I have to mow because it’s rained so much. I spent yesterday cutting the rest of the limb up, with an axe, and quite frankly I’m pretty damn impressed with my axemanship. I have a chainsaw, and it would have been so much easier with a chainsaw, but I mistrust those devices. I just felt like tackling a very large limb with an axe in ninety degree heat.

I came home from work last week and knocked out the base of the limb in two or three foot sections, making one cut one day, and three the next. So Friday I had what was left and a lot of bushy stuff. This was a fairly massive limb, mind you, and it took three pick-up truck loads to haul it out of the yard and into the burn pile but that was where it was at the end of the day Friday.

Saturday morning found me still wearing some exhaustion and I thought about waiting until tomorrow, but the way I have it set up is to be done early in the day Saturday and take Sunday off to rest and to write and to train Lilith to be a good dog, not that I have far to go with her.

The limb fell on July the Fourth.  That was ten days ago but that means the wood is going to be a bit green for a good fire. Yet if I do not burn this weekend I’ll have to burn next weekend and I want next weekend free. Just leaving this sort of pile might draw uninvited guests because all of my yardwork has been reducing the amount of habitat close to the house. The fire sputters, catches, and begins to breathe on its own. Okay, time to mow.

There is a certain amount of Zen to pushing a mower around the yard. The pattern I use is never exactly the same.  Today I start at the shed, mow towards the backdoor, mow around that area, then go through the gate to the front yard, and head north to the fence line. I plan to do the front yard first and I remember the time a mower died with a minute and a half worth of mowing left. Life is a lot like mowing; no matter how hard it is you have less left when you started once you get going, and no matter how bored you are during the process you’re heading towards the end with each step. I go back and forth for a while then around and around for a while, and the amount of area to be mowed decreases.

I’m not one of those people who picks up every little twig when I mow. My theory is a very simple one; mow over it often enough and it will eventually be small enough. I did try to pick up the debris left over from chopping. There are good sized chunks of wood knocked out by my axe and this is how it is supposed to look when it’s done right. But I cannot mow over such as this so I have to flip them over the fence and into the woods.

The triangle across the path gets done. The back and forth part in the front gets done. The scraggly stuff on the east side gets done. Suddenly I’m done with the front but the back is much bigger. Back through the gate, down to the shed again, and I quit to check on the fire, which is doing decently enough. I am tried. The thought of shutting down and finishing tomorrow occurs to me but the fire is going to keep me occupied anyway so I may as well keep going.

The back yard has far too much shade to ever be a lawn. There are more weeks, more weirdness, less grass, but if I don’t mow it there’ll be clumps of weeds and stuff and you know what hides in places like that. I live closer to Florida than I do Georgia so I have a lot of sand in my yard which turns into dust when it is dry. It doesn’t take long for me to look like Pigpen from Peanuts.

At ten I’m close to being done but I can feel the heat now. I can also feel the drag of yesterday seeping into my bones. Working in heat carries over from one day to the next, and if someone from South Georgia can say that the first cool spell in October isn’t welcome they’re lying. But this is still July, August hasn’t been set yet, and I have an hour of mowing to go. The fatigue will have to wait a while still.

No matter what task is at hand keeping at it will end it. Mowing with a push mower is walking and there is a certain amount of walking that will equal the end.  I’ve divided the yard into two sections and one section, the bigger one, is done. The other section is smaller but the tiredness asks me to finish it tomorrow when it is cooler. I keep walking. Every step is a step closer to being finished and each blade of grass and weed that gets a haircut won’t need another for at least a week, or maybe even ten days. These are high grass days, this is mowing season at its worse, and with rain I will have to do this once a week.

I’m done. I shut the mower down and break down the air filer to clean it. It is caked with dust and if I do not clean the air filter after each use the mower will actually stop running. I put it back together and wash my hands. The dogs, who have dealt with the biblical plague of mosquitoes while I mowed, want to go in, too.

The fire is dying down and it is time to stop working for a while now.

Take Care,


  1. Ah yes, that mental dance between the pleasure of stopping now, and the dread of having to face getting out, start, and clean up again. Quite often the battle raged in my head so long, I was surprised I was finished.