If you were to come over to my house and sit on the porch with me, maybe have a some iced tea in a mason jar, maybe I offer you a deviled egg from a giant pickle jar/maybe I don’t, whatever, you would probably sit there for a couple minutes trying to have a little conversation with me.
And that’s fine. Conversation is good.
I’d say a few things to you, don’t worry. I’d talk some fishing with you if you wanted to talk fishing. Or baseball. Or farm animals or muscle cars or whether or not the guy Kim is marrying on Don’t Be Tardy For The Wedding is really the right one for her or not.
Listen, I’m easy. We can talk about this or that. It doesn’t matter to me.
The thing is though, after a few minutes you’ll be sitting there on the Amish bench, blab-blabbing about stuff and you’re gonna stop to take a breath and you’re gonna notice that my eyes are sizzling holes in the green grass of the front yard there. You’re going to start to say something but at the exact second that you quiver your lips to spit it out you are also going to realize that this guy is gone, that he is maybe having a stroke/that he is definitely having a stroke.
But it’s not a stroke, man.
I am thinking about my Baby Sweets…my lawn mower. And all that grass that needs cutting.
Go ahead and laugh. I don’t give a sheep’s turd. I’ve been this way ever since I was about ten, that bright summer morning long ago when my Pop-Pop let go of my arms and I was pushing his old mower myself, out across that magnificent silent sea behind his ragged house. I still recall all that grass laid out before me (okay, so it was mostly dirt and and a fine shrapnel of broken sticks and muddy stones).
And it was mine all mine to conquer. To tame.
The years have passed now and Pop-Pop is tending a fifty acre plot of bluegrass in the sky for me now, but I’m still here and still in love with it all, with mowing the lawn. I don’t know why really? I can’t put my finger on it exactly. But I know that I’m hooked on it. To me, it’s unfathomable that some guys don’t dig mowing.
Not so much because I’m judging them. To each his own, I say. But when I drive by and see how someone has let their grass get really high I get an itchy soul, I want to feel the handlebars curving beneath my palms/smell the fresh gasoline/savor the light breeze blowing through my dusted hair. It’s my Harley, that damn lawn mower is. And I’m an Easy Rider.
Maybe it’s just that I love the order of it all. Maybe I revel in the long straight lines of newly clipped blades standing side by side with the uncut stuff. Perhaps it’s the sense of low-level accomplishment that comes with spinning her back around and starting down the next aisle of Earth. Or it could just be that feeling I have inside that I am doing something over here, and I know that no one is going to bother me or try and stop me, because this job needs to get done. Right now.
Ever since Violet turned a year old, I’ve been strapping her into the backpack carrier and taking her with me. And oh, is she a chip off the old block! She sits up there without a peep, except when I cut the engine to empty the bag.
Then she’ll speak.
“We’re DONE Daddy! We’re all DONE!” she hollers out. And if we’re done, I say so. But often I have to tell her that we’re not done yet and then she kicks her sneakers against my spare tire and shouts out, “Start her UP Daddy! Start her UP!”
And I’ll reach down and grab the pull string, feeling it’s T-shaped plastic power jolt up into my arm and directly into my heart and I’ll say,”Are you ready, kiddo?”
Then, she responds like Joey Ramone kicking in a song.
“One-Two-Three-Four-One! Start her UP Daddy!!!”
And I rip that thing back and the spark hits the gas and the engine fires up and the roar of our work together fills the air, carrying over trees and streets, so that they can hear us three or four blocks away.
Her, sitting up there in her perch.
And me, trickling sweet summer sweat, moving us slowly forward across the green green grass of home.
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