Mowing becomes therapy

Published 12:30 am Sunday, April 24, 2011

The yard back home was small. A 10-by-20-foot patch of grass interrupted by a small sidewalk led to the porch steps. A 6-foot-wide, swath of grass ran the length of the house. The driveway was on the other side.

It was a typical Yankee neighborhood. The houses were tall and thin — appearing much bigger from the outside — and packed close together. Nassau Place — the length of a Canadian football field add 30 yards — consisted of six houses on the west side and four on the east. It was a quiet street connecting two semi-quiet streets.

The back yard sloped gently to a flat area at the bottom. The back yard, too, was small and rectangle-shaped. Big enough, though, to house a wiffle ball stadium with bleachers for paying customers, football field and eventual pet cemetery. No grass grew, although we did for opening day each year line the dirt basepaths with lime — calling foul balls was of utmost importance.

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When summer hit, always a bit later than it hits here, mowing became a chore. The mower certainly had few bells and whistles, but it was gas-powered and the sloping nature of the yard meant menial physical exertion.

And boy did we complain. Start to finish, it couldn’t have taken more than an hour — with an iced tea (that’s what I called it then) break in the middle. Half of the cuttable backyard consisted of grape vines and Dad’s rhubarb patch, further minimizing the chore.

Many years have passed since last mowing the lawn on Nassau Place. Where I live now has more cuttable grassy areas than all of the Nassau Place backyards combined. The no-frills push mower of the past is now a no-frills tractor. The hour-long process now takes nearly four hours, complete with at least one sweet tea (what I call it now that I know better) break.

It’s not a chore, except affording the diesel to fill said tractor. It’s therapy in a world in need of therapy. Turkey buzzards hover high overhead, field mice dance to avoid the mower’s blade and the occasional at-work woodpecker breaks the tractor’s monotonous rumble.

All problems are set aside for four hours of tranquility.

When the day is finished, the grass is cut short and true, the unmistakable smell of freshly cut grass dangles in the still-cool April air and the sweet tea is cold and refreshing, it begs a question: Why did I ever complain about doing this?