I know a lot of you began reading the first part of “Lawnmower Wars” and were wondering, ‘come on, don’t leave us hanging’. Well, I hope I didn’t cause a major anxiety disorder by making you wait a few hours to see where the rest of the story went.
At the end of the first half, I wrote:
After about an hour, I was able to get back onto my own mower and start attempting to beat down the jungle. It took two hours to do perhaps an 80 feet by 12 feet section without the mower overheating, the belt breaking or any other repairs…
In a way, that wasn’t much of a cliffhanger, but real-life events rarely set up that way. I do, however, like to give readers something to look forward to. That’s mainly why I put the “…” at the end.
The truth is that I made it sound like everything was just fine when I was able to get back on my own mower and beat down the jungle. That would be completely false. In a fit of frustrated tears, I required a cold drink and some deep breathing exercises in order to even allow my eyes to gaze over the remainder of my task at hand. Granted, the mower didn’t overheat, the belt didn’t break and there were no other repairs (made by the expert gardener neighbor). I did require yet another exit from the seat of my mower to make an adjustment – and it is probably a good thing that I had taken the drink and inhaled/exhaled so I didn’t hyperventilate.
I wiped my tears with my shirt, now covered with dust, dirt, grass clippings, various fleas (I am sure), beetle droppings, pea gravel and pollen, causing a new issue; an allergy attack. Now, with my nose running like a faulty faucet and my eyes threatening to swell shut, I made an adjustment that tweaked the mower blades to a velocity that is likely not safe for anyone to be within 200 feet of. Flying debris be damned, I was going to get this mowing job finished and come out on top.
I looked around with relief. I was essentially the only neighbor in evidence manning a mower of any sort. That meant that I could now execute my new plan of making 5000 passes over the same piece of ground in order to eradicate any evidence that grass grew on my lawn. My rider was so loud, the muffler threatening to shoot off a backfire that would have brought the Sheriff department’s urban assault team in full regalia, manning automatic weapons and bomb disposal gear from the county seat over 20 minutes away. Fortunately, the muffler felt sorry that I was now humiliated enough to keep its rumblings below nuclear levels.
After another two hours, the mower sputtered to a stop; it had run out of gas. I stepped down, gave the nearest tire a kick (hurting my toe) and then sat on the porch step and stared at it. The lawn would never be given an award. My neighbors would soon drive past and see that not only had I employed the ‘get it done’ method, but evidence of the ‘I could give a crap’ method I added for good measure. The saddest part was that I had essentially only completed one-fourth of the total job. I was in no mood to add more gas, get back on the machine and engage anything. In fact, we’re a couple days into the new week and the mower still sits where it stalled. Even the dog looks at it when I take her out to “potty”, wondering what it is doing sitting in the middle of the side yard like a statue.
During my down time, while I have engaged in a 12-step program to gain the courage to try, try again (one day at a time) to finish my task, I have heard the tell-tale rumblings of the lawnmower wars continuing. Yes, while my mower sits idle, the ‘grass master’ next door and at least five other neighbors have begun their battles all over again. Strapped with weed eaters, leaf blowers, gas cans and trimming shears, they have run the gauntlet unscathed and are winning. I am not sure if I even know the meaning of the word ‘win’ at this point.
As I sit here writing this, I am thinking I may need to just suck it up and get back out there. Get on that mower like you would a horse that hates your guts and rubs you off on a tree every time you ride it down the trail. Grab the steering wheel and slam my foot on the brake, then run it until it smokes. Put a couple stripes of old oil under my eyes like I am going into the big game – put me in coach. Shake my fist at the thistle and wild raspberry that tear into my skin as I fly past, letting the blood flow and leaving it on the field of battle.
And next week, I get to do it all again. And again. And again.
The thing is, as long as there is a little town to live in and grass inhabits the terrain, the lawnmower wars will never cease. Like a band of idiots, we all accept that it is certain that there will be mowing to be done. I believe I have figured out, now, just why everyone disappears once the weather turns cold, the snow flies and the grass goes dormant. They are so exhausted from the emotional toll the spring and summer have taken that they are preparing their wills, calling psychologists on their cell phones and grabbing hold of their loved ones in the hope that the time they have left will carry them through. They have slipped a bit and need at least four months to recover. It makes a ton of sense.
I now have a much healthier respect for sub-arctic Alaskans. They may have to do everything the ‘hard way’, but by golly – they are more sane that I am because they never have to battle grass unless it’s inside the gut of the Caribou they’re going to eat. All hail the Alaskans.