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Sometimes I think I just can't cut it


Harvey Estes feels like he looks like Lawrence of Arabia in his lawn mowing gear.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

There are four seasons of the year in Pitt County: December, January, February, and the season of mowing grass.

For nine months of each year, I am a full-time employee of the yard. And I should join a union, because there is plenty of conflict between management and labor. The yard always manages to make me labor more than I ought to.

It’s like the joke about that song by the Bobby Fuller Four: I fought the lawn and the lawn won. I could just hear them singing:

Mowing grass in the hot sun, I fought the lawn and the lawn won.

I needed a parasol, but I had none, I fought the lawn and the lawn won.

I really could use a parasol or a first aid tent or something, because I hate putting on sun screen. It feels like smearing mayonnaise all over my face, and I am not a tomato sandwich, not even under the rule of “you are what you eat.” But I want to keep my dermatologist happy, because he wants to keep me alive, an interest which I share. So I put on a wide-brimmed hat and a long-sleeved white shirt and khaki pants to deflect as much solar radiation as possible. Sounds crazy until you remember how in desert countries they wear robes to cover up everything for solar protection. I look like Lawrence of Arabia in a straw hat. But I am not trying to make a fashion statement, I am just trying to survive. Think of me as the Gloria Gaynor of lawn care.

I share mowing equipment with my son-in-law who lives next-door, which is quite a blessing. We’re different in some ways, pull for different sports teams, have different political views, do not attend the same church. But when it comes to the gospel of getting that grass cut, it’s gimme that old time religion. Pray that the rain will hold off. Take up a collection to pay for the gasoline. Preach sermons about parking the car on the oil spot each time so that the bald place in the grass won’t get even bigger. There should be a special name for this kind of relationship: son-in-lawn.

Now don’t call me a wuss for using a riding mower instead of a push mower. Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding and I think my yard is too. How else can you explain the fact that it takes longer and longer to mow it each time? It couldn’t be that I’m getting older, because the expanding universe is also supposed to make time slow down.

When I climb onto the mower, I also climb onto an emotional roller coaster. Because I dread doing this, I dread it for all the days that I put it off each time. But once I crank up and start spraying grass out the chute, something changes. I feel the wind rushing past my face … well, actually it kind of saunters on by, because this mower is not very fast. But still, I’m outside, doing something besides sitting in front of a computer like I do at work. I see the blue of the sky, smell the aroma of cut grass, feel the vibration of the (somewhat) powerful engine. There’s nothing like it. Never has so much progress been made by just going around in circles.

Late into November the patches that demand to be cut get smaller and smaller, like the tufts of hair on an old man’s head. And part of me looks forward to parking it for the winter and enjoying the short break from riding the metal bronco of yard trimming.

But part of me still misses it. A chance to get away from the job, go outside, and enjoy the noisy solitude of nobody’s going to bother me for now.

Who could ask for mower?