Mower Lines

A while back, a friend of mine injured her arm. I asked her if there was anything I could do, and of course, there wasn’t. Most of my friends are like that: stubborn and won’t ask for help.

I even offered to mow the grass for her. She gave me a distrusting glance. And then I remembered: She likes her lawn mowed as if it were a major league baseball field. Stripes in perfectly patterned rows. Engage the blades, kill the blades, in just the right rhythm and at just the right time to make a picture-perfect yard.

Come to think of it, I have several friends like this. I think they’re strange.

My husband is like this, a nice and careful cutter. I also think he’s strange and way too preoccupied with the state of the yard.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If that’s your thing, fine. Stripe it afresh everyday all week long if you’d like. And I don’t want our grass to be so tall that it harbors snakes or varmints or squatters. Or that it needs to be raked and baled between trimmings.

I say mow it. Then be done.

‘Cause in a few days, those nice, neat lines you spent so much time fussing with will be gone.

Just mow it.

Then be done.

No need to converse about it. No need to analyze it. No need to bring it up five times that day that the grass looks so good. Is it mowed? Great. Probably looks like everyone else’s lawn up and down the road—or pretty darn close, striped or not.

[Disclaimer—We did have that one neighbor who mowed their grass once a year whether it needed mowed or not. You could’ve hidden Tomator and Jimmy Hoffa in that yard… Not a fan of that, either.]

Now, I enjoy mowing grass. Always have. It gives me time to think. The vibrations and hum of the engine and occasional blade-against-the-mole-hill spurt lulls me into daydreaming and release of tension. But the deeper I daydream and disengage from reality, the crazier my “mower lines” become. Meandering. Wiggling. Bending. And sometimes, I forget to disengage the blades on my way back to the garage and cut another swath diagonal to those wiggles. But hey, it’s mowed. It’s done.

And if I know the following week will be busy or rainy, I put the deck down as low as it can go and scalp the grass. Hey, it’ll grow back. Eventually. And it gives me a few days’ buffer between cuttings.

When I mow, the lawn definitely doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And neither does the look on my husband’s face look like anyone else’s when he analyzes the job I’ve done. His jaw clenches, his eyes go bloodshot, and he gives a subtle nod, silently vowing to get off work earlier the next week to beat me to the mower.

That’s why my friend gave me that look. She knew—or at least suspected— that I am no careful cutter. So I’ve never offered again. Because her grass would be short, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

Driving through neighborhoods in the summer when everyone has mowed their grass on the same day irks me. Sameness. Stripes here. Stripes there. The job is done, but there’s no uniqueness. My husband admires them all. Conformist, he is.

Like Grisham’s Skipping Christmas (with the Kranks). Everyone doing the exact same thing. And when I try to break free with my curvy, wiggly lines, someone comes chasing me down the street, beating me with their bigger-than-life Frosty the Snowman.

Same thing happens in the fall. I love seeing fallen leaves just after a rain. The blanket of color beneath the tree matches the leaves that held on through the storm. Perfect. Until someone comes along with a mower, blades whirling and mulches away the beauty.

Back to the nice, neat stripes. (And if the tree isn’t done shedding, you’ve gotta do it again, so why not just leave it be?)

Did you know you can’t hide Easter eggs in a nicely striped lawn? They stick out like sore thumbs.

And you can’t jump into a pile of leaves if you’ve mulched them to shreds with the Husqvarna. Just try it sometime. Takes all the crispy, crunchy fun out of the event.

What’s the point?

A young lady asked me to proofread her scholarship essay a few weeks ago. She did well. The content was great. But the passage was just like every other high schooler’s scholarship essay I’ve read. Perfect five-paragraph essay complete with intro, meaty middle with all the appropriate transition words at the start of each paragraph, and a nice, tight conclusion. Each paragraph had the same number of sentences. We tweaked a few things.

I begrudgingly left the structure because I know this form is what they teach in school. It gives a standard to evenly measure everyone by. Helps to organize thoughts, etc., etc.

She emailed me, thanking me for the help. She got an A. Told me she wanted to be an author. I asked what kind. She said fiction of some sort. Because this paper was so easy for her. She could write just like that each time and make a nice living. And would I like to proofread those stories when she’s ready.

Oh dear.

I gave her the mower lines analogy. I encouraged her to learn what they have to offer in English class— then forget it all (forgive me, Mrs. Yeager).

Otherwise, she’ll end up with a street-full of perfectly mowed lawns. There’s no room for treasure-filled egg hunts or crisp, fall dives into reds, yellows and oranges. Just sameness story after story.

I don’t think she liked my answer. I haven’t heard back from her.

She’s probably inflating her Frosty…

Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on Mondays for a new blog and the first Friday of every month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.