“Mow mow mow your lawn, watch it quickly grow, what’s the deal with all the weeds? Time to buy a goat.” So says the guy who wouldn’t mind doing as the song from “Frozen” suggests and “Let it go! Let it go!” and start a pheasant habitat in the yard.
I’m just getting around to cleaning up the slimy composting heaps of leaves that were my “to heck with it” piles when the first snow blanketed the yard last fall.
I can’t remember the first time I mowed the lawn by myself when I was growing up. I’m sure my dad “got things started” and mowed around all the things in the yard that he didn’t want me running over — like rocks, flowers, shrubs, garden hoses and the cat. As I recall, our homes in France where my dad was stationed in the ’60s had lawns, but I can’t remember him ever mowing. Maybe he did let the neighbors goats come forage once a week.
Our home in Florissant, Missouri, was on a corner lot and had a side yard where Dad dumped a load of dirt. This gave us kids somewhere to set up our army guys to throw dirt clods at, and each other, so there wasn’t much to mow there. The front yard had a nice stretch of lawn, and I do remember we loved it when Dad would mow because he’d always cut pathways so we could play “Redlight, Greenlight” with the neighbor kids and set up bases for endless games of “hot box,” which I think is now known as getting in a “pickle” when running the bases in baseball. We’d play for hours in the warm, humid evenings, listening to the cicadas buzzing in the trees and hoping the ice cream truck would make its rounds down our street.
Dad’s next military assignment took us to Hampton, Virginia. We lived off base our first year there until space opened up in base housing. Our “lawn” as I recall consisted of patches of grass here and there among bare dirt holes. I don’t remember mowing this lawn, although I probably started asking about mowing by myself. Most of the mowing at this address was spent stopping the mower and shooing toads out of the way. They were everywhere!
When we moved into base housing, my mowing career took off because we had a small fenced yard and equally tiny front yard to keep groomed. Mowing was usually delegated to us boys as Dad was busy trying to feed our tribe, and since I was the second oldest, the task fell to me if my older brother was not available and couldn’t do it or, more likely, didn’t feel like it! We had a couple of different mowers that were usually in various states of repair, or more often disrepair. I’m sure incoming aircraft at the base reported seeing large plumes of blue smoke coming up from the housing area.
It was during this time that I started getting mowing side jobs to earn a little extra money while neighbors were deployed or on TDY (temporary duty) away for the summer. I also learned that the better job you did, the more likely you’d be asked to mow in the future. Hopefully by now some of the lawns I cared for have recovered.
When we moved to Utah, we lived with my grandparents in River Heights until Dad found a home in North Logan, where our family lived until a year ago. Grandpa owned an old spiral blade mower with the rollers on it that I tried my best to operate without taking out Grandma’s rhubarb plants and flower pots.
There was no lawn at the new house, just waist-high weeds and tons of rocks. I would have gladly traded mowing for dealing with the metric tons of rock that we removed from the ancient riverbed that tumbled from Green Canyon.
It was at this residence that Dad bought our very first electric mower, hoping to save a little on gas and upkeep. But of course we made up for it in the number of extension cords we had to purchase because we routinely ran over them. We did acquire good roping skills while untangling cords from trees, bushes, sprinklers and our family beagle.
While working at the USU dairy farm, I was given the task of periodically mowing the ditch banks and roadsides around the farm with a big flat mower attached to the PTO behind the tractor. As much as I pre-scouted the area, I always ended up running over stuff that required extensive blade resharpening and adjusting (reattachment).
In all the years I’ve been mowing lawns, I’ve never owned a riding mower. When Lynda’s dad purchased a new riding mower before he passed away, they graciously gifted me their old one. All these years and I didn’t know what I was missing! My back, neck and sore knees are grateful for a gentler, less painful experience, and if gas prices keep rising I may ride it to school.
Lately I’ve heard the phrase “No Mow May,” which as I understand it is a way of letting the grass grow a little longer to benefit our pollinating friends the honey bees? I guess the only question I have is this: Does “No Mow May” make things a little “Mo Bettah”? Hmmmmm.
Chad Hawkes is a fifth grade teacher at North Park Elementary School. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.