Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mowing is a Pain in the Grass

The sun peaked out from behind a cloud. A sudden burst of excitement and initiative ignited within me. Normally a shining sun would have been something I took for granted, but since my recent move from Arizona to the Pacific Northwest, I knew I had to act quickly.

It was time to mow the lawn.

I went to the garage and yanked out the extension cord. The orange electrical snake was a tangled mess.

“I don’t remember packing it that way,” I muttered to myself.

It’s the same reaction I have when I bring out the Christmas tree lights. There is no telling what naughty things cords do when placed in boxes and left unsupervised. Is this how they mate?

However, rather than try to solve this universal mystery (second only to what happens to all the missing socks from the dryer) I decided to literally make hay while the sun shines. I pulled out the grass catcher. After several attempts, I gave up on how to get the grass catcher to work. It had been more than a decade since I mowed the lawn (due to desert landscaping and not willful neglect.) Finally I remembered that I NEVER could figure out how the darn thing worked. The answer to that mystery left with my ex¬¬ husband.

“Oh well,” I thought. “I’ll just mow and rake afterward.”

I mowed about six inches and the cord disconnected. This was the first of 86 disconnections, 157 swear words from me and 4,682 snickers from my new neighbors. The cord in the wall outlet worked fine, but the prong on the outlet in the handle of the mower was bent and came loose easily.

I suppose I could have taken the time to fix the problem, but after experiencing the fickle nature of Washington weather, I figured I better trudge ahead. Part of my concern was my environmentally-friendly electric mower does not have a lot of power. In the past I had neglected my lush Arizona lawn for a week and when I tried to mow through my backyard jungle, the engine overheated and caught fire (true story.)

With no money, no mower and more grass than ever, I was forced to ask my sister, Tina, if I could borrow her machine. This seemingly innocuous contraption was later dubbed, “The Beast.” The first problem started when I tried to get “el pain-in-the-grass” into my mini van. Neither Tina, my friend, Andrea, (who came along to assist) nor I are weight lifters, so this took some doing. However, after much laughing, crying and swearing, we finagled the mower into the van. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the door to close. So, in my aggravation (and impatient desire to get my grass cut) I had Andrea drive the van and I sat on the floor, held onto the seat with one hand and The Beast with the other.

Once we unloaded the mower at my house (thankfully only a mile away) we faced the next problem. I pulled and pulled on the starter cord, but the engine would not engage. Assuming my arm was weak from the drive, Andrea gave it a shot. She tugged until she pulled a muscle in her shoulder. My friend and roommate, Vanessa, also took her turn with the beast and wounded her arm (and pride) in the process. However, it finally started, I mowed the lawn and somehow returned The Beast back to Tina. On payday I bought another lawn mower.

Because I could get an environmental rebate from my utility company, I bought the exact same model electric mower as I had before. In retrospect, this is akin to breaking up with someone and asking if they have an identical twin you can date.

But I digress. Back to my Washington lawn.

I would mow, replug the cord, stop, toss the cord out of my way, mow, stop, make sure that the lump of brown stuff was mud and not a deposit from a former canine resident, mow, stop, replug again, swear and start the process all over.

Then I tried to mow uphill. I don’t know who is weaker, me or my electric mower. It was 40 degrees outside and I was sweating more than I did in the desert. I tried changing the direction of my mowing, getting a head of steam and trying to run up the hill, and finally just mowing downhill (the cord kept disconnecting anyway, so what the heck.)

Finally, the job was done. And a good thing too, as the sun disappeared and the rain fell on my newly mowed yard.

So what is the morale of this story you may ask? Does this anecdote depict the importance of perseverance, the value of overcoming obstacles, or something more mundane like the benefits of hiring a lawn service?

I’ll let you, dear reader, decide for yourself.

I just know that when I woke up the next day, gazed out the front window to admire the handiwork of my newly mowed lawn, I had only one insightful thought.

“Oh my gosh, that grass looks like a bad haircut!”

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