The air this morning was hanging like a dead man left to rot. As I watched the eastern sky go from grey to a lighter grey I realized that mowing at seven wasn’t going to happen. My shirt clung to my skin with a prickly sort of moisture that doesn’t feel like dew, or rain, or waterfalls. No, this is a rodent’s breath type wetness that seems to be cloying and stagnant. Gnats and mosquitoes are swimming in it, thriving in the thick air and nothing else can. There is no breeze. There is not a hint of freshness in the dawn’s awakening. I pull the cord to the mower and the blue smoke hangs in the air like a disease looking for the dying to claim.
This is early August in all its finest. True enough, this has been a wet cool Summer if it has been anything at all. There has been to killing heat. Sam has survived this Summer now, the end is in sight. If I can get the aging Grey past the next month the heat will be gone for another six or seven months. This time next month the days will be noticeable shorter in the morning and in the afternoon and the heat, even when it can rise above triple digits cannot stay there long. No, the calendar count stays for no man, no reason, and no season. The Summer Solstice was forty-three days ago and in another forty-three the Equinox will be nearly here. The first half of Summer is always the worst and it will spend the next half struggling to make some heated memory, like an aging lover trying to stay just one more night.
A mowed last Saturday, or perhaps it was last Friday, yes, Friday, and the grass is still thick and tall right now. But July is gone now. The blast furnace that was the growing season has ended for nearly all things that exploded out of the wet Spring we had. This is not the end by no means and the spot in the yard that, for reasons that escape me, grow grass thicker and taller than anywhere else, are just so. Yet the edges where the grass grows more slowly doesn’t need as much attention. There are signs that this Summer has begun to pass. Even as it saps my energy with the heat and humidity I can tell it is not able to hit nearly as hard.
The driveway is full of white beach sand and little grass grows in the wheel paths. There is a canine which roams late at night and if he, or she, is a coyote it is a very large one. I do not think there is a dog nearby who I do not know. There are also small tracks of canine, one feline, raccoon and an opossum. But mostly I am curious about the canine. Mentally, I compare the tracks to those made by Lucas and realize this dog is half the size of the Loki Mutt at least. That gives me an idea of the size but no idea of who it might be and why it is here.
The mower’s path is back and forth, around and around, and each pass signals less work to be done, more has been done, yet I was right here, in this very spot last week and next week I will return here, an empty harvest of grass heads, decapitated without cause except to have a green carpet of uniform height and a total lack of biodiversity. I stopped mowing one year and my neighbors cut my yard for me. Later they told me they assumed my mower was broken and I didn’t want to bother them to borrow one. It’s a lot more work to mow someone else’s grass than your own so I decided to keep my yard looking like someone really does live here and mow.
There is a swale in the front yard that has turned into a river of sorts a few times this year and the grass there is snarly thick. I have to mow the swale at an angle to get the deck of the mower to cut the sides of the swale perfectly. The swale is one of the lines of division in the yard. The driveway, the garden, the old stump, and the swale are my demarcations that I use to turn the yard into smaller blocks of mowing. It’s like drinking one beer at a time instead of pouring the six pack into a larger container. Gnats swarm, the temperature rises, the humidity increases, the sweat pours off of me, but the task at hand does become less.
It has something to do with the season, this I am sure of, but I get all of the front yard cut and a considerable piece of the back done with one tank of gas. The last part of the back yard is where Bert began digging craters many years ago and the new dogs have adopted the crater field as their own. Sam is a trencher but Bert build bomb shelters. The L Hounds are both diggers but not like Bert was. The main crater was one he dug and I’m not sure how to fill it in without digging a hole of my own. It’s odd how you have to go out and get dirt to fill in holes that dogs dig. It’s like they hide the dirt from the holes where it cannot be found.
At last, the mowing is done. I will be back again this same time next week, certainly, but soon it will be a job I have to do every ten days or so and then two weeks, and then…one more time before I quit for the season. The dogs are all happy the mower is off and as I look over the yard I realize I can now see some of the late Summer vines on the fences. A change is occurring, very slowly, but very steadily.
It always has been and it always will.