Autumn is my favorite season of the year in Northern Maine for many reasons. I love the changing leaves, I love the cooler days and crisp nights, and it’s still warm enough to do some grilling on the porch without dropping a steak on the ground because I’m shivering so badly.
Autumn is also that magical time where it’s fairly easy to convince your spouse that the lawn can probably go another week without mowing.
But I might have pushed it a little far last weekend.
Avoiding the chore of mowing the lawn is a skill I developed decades ago as a child who had to push an old-style reel mower. For the folks under 30 who read this column, a reel mower is one that resembles a miniature combine machine with a horizontal cylinder of spiraling blades whirling on the front. The big drawback to reel lawn mowers, especially back in the day, is that they lacked any sort of power source except for the kid sweating and swearing as he pushed the machine across the lawn.
You’d think that as I grew up and we acquired more advanced yard grooming technology, I’d become more willing to mow the lawn. As we moved from a reel mower to a push mower to a self-propelled mower to a riding mower to the apex predator of the lawnmower ecology, the riding lawn tractor, you would think I might even look forward to mowing the lawn.
Mowing the lawn represents several hours of my life in which I would rather do anything other than mindlessly move along a slowly spiraling pathway with the roaring thrum of an engine and where the most exciting event to break the monotony is the occasional shredded plastic toy.
So I will find any excuse to put it off.
A typical conversation might start when my wife will ask, “Are you planning to mow the lawn this weekend, Andrew?”
“Well sure, if by ‘planning to mow the lawn’ you mean planning on thinking about possibly scheduling a time to consider my options as to when I might have a break in my busy weekend schedule to consider whether the lawn could use a trim. If you mean that, then I am definitely planning.”
“Are you kidding? The dog became lost in the backyard earlier this week, and I had to form a search party from our sons and my mother to find her.”
“But you did find her, and she came home, right?” I said, raising my eyebrows so she understood I had made an important point.
“Don’t give me that. The last time you mowed, you had put it off so long that the clippings you left behind were so thick they killed the grass underneath.”
“You say that as if it were a bad thing.”
“It is a bad thing. Large swaths of dead barren earth are embarrassing.”
“But, if the grass is dead, I don’t have to mow it. That’s a good thing, right?” I raised my eyebrows meaningfully.
“Wrong. And if you don’t want to spend the next week sleeping in the barn, you better get out there and start mowing.”