Whack, zip, zap! The ride-on lawnmower sliced through the high weeds that bordered our property and the neighbours, with the ease of a cold knife through hot butter. I was in mindless bliss, when out of the corner of my eye, I notice my wife standing in the path of destruction. She waves her arms frantically in the air, trying to get my attention, attempting to scream loud enough for me to hear her above the cacophony of engine noises, and the whirring blades of the lawnmower. Should I, I’m thinking, stop and find out what all the fuss is about, or should I continue, and pretend not to have noticed her frantic pleas for me to stop cutting. What could be wrong?
“Wha…!”, I reluctantly turn the key off, getting a little angry for having to stop the machine before the job was finished. The twin blades go thug-a-thug-a-thug as they whir to a stop. The weeds and grass ahead of the cutting deck gasp a sigh of temporary relief from inevitable shear down.
“Didn’t you see the junipers in the grass!” shouts my wife, still waving her arms furiously. She is not a happy woman. “Do you realize how much work went into planting them?” She continues, still ranting emphatically. “I just put those in two weeks ago!”
A myriad of emotions from shame, remorse and “how could I have been so stupid as to not see the shrubs”, set in. “Now they’re all gone,” my wife laments in a very disappointing tone of voice, bordering on crying. “What a waste of my time.” Her tone of voice was a cross between chastising the dog, after she’d left the yard to chase one of the dogs walking by on the street, and when she lost 80% of her tomato plants in a late spring frost, after conscientiously looking after them all winter.
Understanding the severity of the situation, for the moment, I pause in respectable silence, agonizing over my stupid faux pas. After waiting, for what I thought was an apropos period of time before responding, and allowing enough time for her to simmer down. I sheepishly, but optimistically peep up, “look honey,” as I point to an area just in front of the mower, “there are still three more healthy ones over there!”
I know, I know, I have to drill it into my head that I must take my time and refrain from taking these insipid shortcuts when it comes to mowing the grass? The conclusion I have come to in my myopic view of life, is implementing a little less ruthless method, but still maintaining speed and efficiency.
Using a conventional push gas lawnmower is the answer. It can get into those tight and hard to reach places, around those border gardens, trees and shrubs, and I might not have to use the gas string trimmer as much. And yes, as a bonus, I would receive the added benefit of getting a little more exercise. I have found the panacea to my mowing dilemma, I know it. Besides, the flowers and shrubs would have me to thank for implementing this less evasive tactic.
In practice, my theory was bearing fruit. I was getting into a great routine, cutting the lawn every three or four days. That is, until I decided it probably would save my wife and me, (did I mention my tendency to be lazy?) some additional weeding time if I used the lawnmower for that extra little bit of trimming just inside the side gardens. I reasoned that those nasty and obnoxious broad-leafed Burdock plants, which are hard to pull out anyway, might benefit from that extra trimming. Unfortunately, and I never pay much attention to this, these same weeds have the tendency to grow near the irrigation system, but I am getting pretty good at cutting close to hoses, taps, etc.
Whap! Before I could say couch grass, the plastic elbow, two feet of connecting hose and both clamps from zone five of the soaker sprinkling system disintegrated in front of my eyes. I could not believe it! I wasn’t that close, or was I? Of course I was, how stupid of me, always taking the short cut, and never learning from my mistakes. When will I begin to learn not to cut corners? I started to pick up the pieces from this carnage, and repaired the section of soaker hose, but required making a special trip to the local hardware store to pick up another elbow.
Yes, I still have lots to learn about making good judgment calls. Should I cut there, or just nip that weed off there by the Martha Washington…then zip, a valuable flower would disappear! “Oh no, not again,” I would mumble under my breath. It’s like I can’t stop myself from getting too near those valuable flowers and shrubs. Just, one more blade of grass, right next to that flowering dahlia, as I edge the front of the lawn mower just a little closer. Come on, yes I can do it, just that one tiny blade of grass sticking out there. I’ll save myself some time hauling down the weed whacker. Zap and there goes that pretty big red flower head scoot across the lawn!
As time goes on, though, I am slowly acquiring those necessary skills in this recognized gardening art. Now, I very rarely chop through hoses, or annihilate sets of keys left on the lawn, or destroy the dog’s small stuffed animals or those sunglasses…. did I say sunglasses? Oh well!
A big leap for me has been trying to refrain from mowing the lawn after dark, or on rainy days, just to get the job out of the way before the weekend. No one wants to spend valuable weekend time mowing the grass. No, I’ve learned that mowing the lawn when it’s pitch black outside is not recommended in any of the good gardening publications. Cutting the grass by sense of feel isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. I never quite mastered remembering where I had previously cut, and usually moved the lawnmower over too far, leaving those narrow uncut streaks of grass behind. It was annoying the next day to find myself having to get the mower out to correct those little mistakes from the night before. Similarly, cutting wet grass just because you want the job to be over with is not justification for making the lawn mower work harder than normal. Your neighbors don’t really give you a thumbs up when they see those lovely dark green (soon to turn to light tan) heaps of wet grass boogers lying all over your lawn. No, I have learned it’s wise to ensure your neighbors don’t speak ill of you.
Best of all, my wife has become more understanding, and for the most part is in a better mood these days. Why, just the other day, when I came inside after mowing, she had a smirk on her face, as she was making some cherry jam. She chuckled, “I was watching you mow out there by the front border garden,” smiling, she continued, “and you mowed over the Russian Sage.” My face dropped and I panicked, “No…” She continued, “That’s all right… it will only take three years for it to get to that height again!” “Well,” I breathed a sigh of relief; “maybe this time it will get a little bushier!”