Here it is, the fourth of April, 2016, and I’m dragging the lawn mower out of hibernation. If I mow once every two weeks this month, and four times a month in May, June, and July, that’s fourteen times. Add three in September and once or twice in October and that’s seventeen, maybe eighteen times. It seems more than that. It seems like during the Summer I’m mowing every other day and ten times a week. But it’s a cool morning, getting close to eight in the morning, and here we go.
I’ve had this push mower for a while now and I’m used to it starting on the first pull. It takes a couple, in fact, but the engine roars to life and I take my first steps of the year with a mower in front of me. Nothing has changed, everything is the same, and the routine I left behind last October is waiting for me, like an old black Lab with a tennis ball in his mouth.
This is a yard with multiple personality disorder. In one section there is lush greenery, fed by the sun and eleventy billion gallons of rain we’ve had lately. But over there are a few lank and thin blades of grass, sheltered from the sun, and hidden, and it is too puny to run a mower over, really, without feeling like a bully. And over there are the leaves I didn’t rake over the winter, what little we had of it, and damn, there’s my garden hose. I stop the mower. I have to pick up a few things first.
Take Two, Scene One, A Man, A Mower, and Aimee Mann.
There’s no reason for me to get Aimee Mann stuck in my mind but there she is. I can’t quite figure this one out. The weeds and grass in the thicket fight back, hard, and the corpses of the dead stick to the bottom of the mower. I have to push forward, pull back, lift the mower, shake it, and repeat. Progress is slow, but expected. Aimee is playing guitar and singing about lost lover, but she’s prone to doing so. Ah, wait, the name of the song is “4th of July” and it is the fourth, just not July. Okay, it makes sense now. One of life’s mysteries solved within ten minutes of mowing.
The fireants have built in the same places they always do, and I always run over them. Because it is a cool morning they have a limited capacity to strike back at me, so I’ll win this round easily, but there is no way to really kill them all, so at some point in the process I’m going to get stung by them once again, and again. Fireants were imported from South America back in the 1930’s and since have spread like a tiny plague. If I could cause their extinction I would gladly do so and there isn’t another species on earth I can say that about.
I can’t remember what religion it is right now but they have a device called a Prayer Wheel and I wonder if I could get a lawnmower blade inscribed with some sort of spells or charms. Imagine how many revolutions a blade makes and then imagine each revolution being a chant for world peace or perhaps the cleaning of the Pacific Ocean of plastic or the loss of voice of Justina Beaver. Maybe all mower blades ought to come inscribed and each weekend there would be billions of prayers, each beseeching the gods for relief from the tolls of this earth. I like that idea but I think perhaps it will not catch on very quickly.
There’s a story running around my head where a giant helps a small group of humans create a sustainable village. There’s a lot of fantasy in this story, obviously. There’s magic and spells and all sorts of mythical creatures running around. The advent of computer generated graphics in movies has opened up the door for the fantastic and the future will see a lot better and a lot more of this. Time was you’d get to see the monster in a movie just a few times because the science and technology just wasn’t there to pull it off. I loved monsters and that sort of thing as a kid and I never grew out of it. I’m happy about that, too. I like a world where humans are just another species trying to get by, not like invasive fireants everyone wants stamp out.
Suddenly, I’m half way through the yard and have to figure out what I want to do next. It doesn’t matter. Six of one, a half dozen of the other, it’s all the same. The beheadings will continue until it’s done and there’s no way of making it easier. There was a time people swept the areas around their homes, down to the dirt, with nothing green growing there. The woods started where this ended and I think we were a better people back then, but everyone always thinks the past was better than now. It’s impossible to see into the future and our glimpses of the past are polluted by memory and artifacts that we cannot understand easily.
Can you imagine how life was without computers? I lived that way for most of my life and never missed them but couldn’t imagine life without a smart phone and a laptop now. The quill is gone, never to return, and one day, if we don’t kill ourselves off, the laptop and smart phone will be relics of a different age. One day the push mower will be considered antique. One day, I will be dead and this yard will be kept by someone else, perhaps, or the woods will return, there is no way to know.
I come back from daydreaming and finish the last part of the yard. So ends the first mowing of 2016. There are seventeen or eighteen, maybe, left.