The summer before I started junior high, I moved to a different part of town. While it was away from many of the friends I had grown up with, I enjoyed having a much larger house and the opportunity to meet new friends.
This also meant new neighbors, which happened to be a great group of people. One of these neighbors was Bill. He was the type of guy that had to be busy. Even though he had a full-time job as a firefighter for the city, he also had a part-time job as a delivery driver on his days off.
Despite this packed schedule, he still had time to mow the lawn more than any person I’ve met in my life.
His lawn always looked perfect, even if it meant he was mowing every other day. I swear on one occasion, he mowed twice in a day and usually did his outside chores while I was trying to get my much-needed 18 hours of teenage sleep.
During this time, I would often be asked to mow the lawn, and I did not get near as much enjoyment out of it as he did. If my mom was out of town for a week and asked me to mow the lawn, I would often wait until the morning she came back to get out and cut. Sometimes if I waited long enough, Bill would see how bad it looked for his lawn to have our lawn look bad and would come over and mow it.
I never complained, and it always looked a lot better than if I had done it.
As much indifference as I had for mowing the lawn, this would change when I got a job one summer working for the city. My job every day was to spend eight hours mowing baseball and softball fields.
That was all I did except for occasionally cleaning up sunflower seeds from the stands, which makes me want to ban that snack at every ballpark in America.
During this time, I grew to appreciate the art of mowing and even learned a few tricks to make the grass look splendid. Once I got a place of my own, I figured I might have a great looking lawn, even if it didn’t look quite as good as Bill’s.
Over the years, I would have a few yards to mow, but they were never big and only took a few minutes.
It wasn’t until I moved to Montana that I had a huge yard.
After the first time I mowed my yard, I was not nearly as enthused as I thought I’d be.
I had quite a fancy riding mower for the ball fields but was only able to afford a super cheap hand-pushed mower for my acre in Montana. Many of my friends would tell me how much they liked to get out and mow the lawn, but I did not share the same joy. It was a workout with this awful mower, but it was the only thing I could afford.
Eventually, I gave up and had someone else do it because it was too much lawn. When I moved to a different house, the yard was smaller, and I happily tried to make it look great until the mower finally gave out, and I once again hired someone.
I would move again a couple of years later and once again had a huge yard, which is not a bad thing until it comes to mowing.
I had a few lawn services come in and do it, but the two I chose were not always reliable, so I decided to get another lawnmower. I tried an electric mower, and while it worked okay, the battery lasted about as long as an Elvis song. It was the size of a smaller teacup which meant it took a lot longer to mow—trying to keep the grass green during the drought last year and mowing the lawn with my saucer made for a crappy summer.
This year, I decided to get a much larger and more powerful gas mower.
After I finish this column, I will attempt to mow the lawn after a week of rainy weather and hope I can find some joy in it.
I want to feel more like Bill and have this be a happy time. Time will tell.