Dawn arrives late and I wonder if just a month after the Summer Solstice if already the sun’s light is growing weaker. Surely, it is far too early for the light to be failing for the season is in full bloom and all its glory. Yes, it is an illusion, a false hope, a chimera of sorts. The predawn sky tells me fog has settled in. The warmth begins already and the air is thick with moisture and heat. Every breath is an effort and there is no relief in the shade for there is no sun yet. It will be another hour before it is light enough for yard work and the heat has a head start on us all.
It feels wet but not that cooling liquidity found in clear water or streams or even rain. No, this is like having warm spit on your body, thick and clingy, as if a giant dog has licked us all right after drinking lukewarm water. Sweat breaks out on me as I walk to the shed and even though the temperature might not be high it feels muggy. The dogs are dispirited and listless. This is not an adventurous romp out in the woods or a chance to play, no. This is a trip out into a sauna and it seems as if it will get worse before it gets any better.
The mower roars to life and I wonder how long it will last. It’s been around for about seven years now and it’s been through some pretty thick stuff. It’s a push mower I bought cheap and I’ve gotten my money out of it several times over. But let’s do it by the numbers; the front yard is cut first, the piece of yard across the trail is mowed before anything else in front, then back and forth and back and forth. I’ve mowed the yard every Sunday morning since May. I’ll keep it up until sometime in September or October. Back and forth until I hit the first part of the yard with a tree, then around and around until I hit the garden, and then I’ll cut what’s left into sections. Back and forth and back and forth; it feels so damp I ought to be leaving a wake. Or be the main attraction in one.
The backyard I divide into two parts and then go after the fire pit area. The trail needs to be mowed again but I wonder how much energy I will have. The heat is oppressive. Sweat clings to my body, runs down my back and legs, blinds me, soaks my gloves and I can feel it pooling in my shoes. My body cannot cool because the sweat isn’t evaporating. I feel like I’m dissolving in the heat and it is getting warmer with every pass I make with the mower. The sun breaks through the fog and it’s as if someone threw another log on the fire.
It’s odd what grows and where it does and what does not grow and where it does not. There was a patch of thick grass thriving near the fence on the west side of the backyard but the trees have begun to shade it out now. There was very little growing near the firepit when I arrived but now that I’ve cleared it grass is trying to edge into the place where a briar patch once thrived. Those were some monster briars, too. The stems of those things were thicker than my fingers and their weaponry was proof against all gloves. They grew tall and straight up in the air then began to curve down and entangle with one another as they matured. I cut them all down with a bush hook and then rolled them all together in pile and left them to dry out before I burned them. This was years ago but the briars still return, a little weaker each year, in that same place each time, but now they get mowed often. I wonder if I died today if next year they would begin to grow up large again.
The trail I cut to The Big Oak on the corner of the property began when I decided to fence the area in back in 2007. The vines and briars were so thick back there it took a few days just to hack a path to put the fence up. Bert set up patrolling the perimeter and the path began to form through the paws of the dogs. I decided to run the mower down the path, to open it up a bit, and just kept expanding it. The mower may be a smallish push mower but it has done its part in getting the trail open enough to enjoy it.
The slope leading down to where the firepit lies isn’t steep or long but I’ve recently been mowing it too. I axed a few stunted trees to make room for those doing much better, and the firepit area, one day after I am long gone, may be ringed with the Oaks I left there. This is my dream, to be the nameless and unknown grower of Mighty Oaks, and perhaps I will be. But as I am thinking of greater Oaks the mower’s handle slips from my grip and rolls, just a foot or two, down the slope. The new stump of a recently hacked tree is there, gets hit by the mower and the mower bounces over on top of it The blade stops with a loud noise.
I check the blade and yep, it’s bent but I have a spare. The old blade is very worn, it was time to replace it, and sweat pours off of me as I turn the bolt, around and around and around. Damn, the piece of metal that hold the blade is broken too. I’m dead in the water here. Closer inspection reveals that the shaft is bent. The blade holding piece of metal isn’t a big deal but that shaft…
So repairing a dead mower might mean more money than I have in it. A new one might mean more money than I want to put into one. Yet I have to decide before next Sunday.