Yet another summer chore growing up was the weekend morning spent cutting the grass.
My parents were not horticulturist. We lived on a corner lot with a few bushes in the front yard and a long line of shrubs on the side of the backyard. There was a little plot that someone somewhere attempted to grow a rose garden but without much result. Other than that, the yard was a flat bed of weeds pretending to be grass.
This was the time of suburbia so to keep up with the neighbors; the job of cutting the grass was given to me.
Power mowers had not been invented yet, at least in my yard, so the rotary push mower was my tool of trade. On a hot summer day after much coaxing, I’d slowly walk to the little shed, unlock the padlock, and roll out my weapon of destruction against the grassy plain.
Back and forth over rocks and anthills I’d walk lobbing off the heads of dandelions and whatever else popped up above the dirt. There was no raking of the fallen heroes so the soil just got worse.
The best part was the hills. Being a corner lot, the front and side of the house was on a hill. The contractors, in their infinite wisdom, had brought in bulldozers to cut out a flat street. At the same time on top of the mounds of land, they seared off a flat surface to construct row after row of cookie cutter houses. That left a 60-degree drop down to the street.
Push a rotary mower up and down a hill I suppose is a good workout but there is no better method than to go up. I tried every variation but pushing up the hill was the only way.
Also trimming the line of ‘bee bushes’ on the side was an adventure of running with really big scissors. The line of bushes had grown wild and every winter would become filled with snow, thus widening their berth. They had a small white flower the bees loved so trimming in the summer meant the real possibility of creating angry bees.
Even though I was still responsible for cutting the grass after I moved out, I looked at my yard of my first house and wondered, “Is this what life is all about?” The new yard wasn’t much better than the old yard but was smaller and I thought I could make a difference.
I borrowed a tiller from a friend at work and decided I would dig it up and start all over. 1. I had never used a tiller before. 2. The dirt was as hard as concrete just like my father’s yard. After a few hours of bouncing around on this mechanical bronco and getting nowhere but bruised, I raked over the carnage and went back inside for another hit.
By the time I got my second house, there were power mowers and trimmers but it was still a Saturday morning chore to entertain the neighbors. I was just starting to learn about dethatching grass when my wife decided to take over.
Now I don’t have a lawn mower. I don’t need to cut the grass because there is none. In the fall I’ll pull out the weedeater and wack back the ivy or whatever greenery I don’t want while the rest runs rampant in a forest for the creatures that never had to cut the grass.