"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ode to a Lawn Tractor: Part I

One surprising thing I learned this past spring is that up here, cutting the lawn is almost always considered 'woman's work' - unless you have a kid of your own whose legs are long enough to reach the lawn tractor gas pedals. Because it is always called a "lawn tractor," never a "lawn mower" or even a "riding mower." I'm not sure why.

When I was growing up, lawns and their related upkeep were part of an exclusively masculine domain, unless you had the aforementioned kid. If the man of the house was otherwise occupied, or you didn't have a kid of your own to punish, you hired some other guy (or kid) to cut it for you. Having grown up with this mowing strategy firmly entrenched, it was a bit of a shock to be told that cutting the 2 acres of lawn at Someday Farm would be MY job. Now that I was a country girl, I had to learn to do things the country way.

When we first moved here, I was so excited at the thought of owning all this lovely acreage. My eyes greedily took in the gently sloping hills, the apple orchards, the rustic fences. I silently thanked the person who thought to plant the multitude of pine and maple trees that dot the property. Now when I survey our domain, I see it with the keen eyes of the practised lawn slave: steep ditches waiting to tip your tractor, apple trees who stab you in the eye and ear with their brances, fences whose navigation require military precision and unending maple and pine obstacles that laugh at my attempts to cut around them cleanly.

My virgin ride on our ramshackle lawn tractor occurred last week. It was 9 o'clock at night, windy and miserable. Both C and D were on hand to observe my first attempt and give "pointers." May I state here and now that the last thing a girl needs to have is two guys shouting and waving their arms frantically at her the first time she mounts a large piece of heavy machinery?

Having had little experience driving much of anything motorized apart from my Kia and the '70, I got along fairly well, if I do say so myself. I figured out how to start the thing, where the brakes were (even though they don't work), what a choke was (up until then I thought it was just something I wanted to do to the dog when she misbehaved), how to go really fast and how to reverse. It was actually kind of fun once I got over my annoyance at the boys and their skeptical expressions. As I rode up and down the patch of lawn between the stable and the barn, I thought, Hey! I can do this! Look at me!

The true test came the next day when I had to go it alone. D was at work, and C was busy in the fields. There would be no one to hear me scream. I dutifully put on my grubbies and marched out to the stable to unleash the beast.

Part II coming soon to a blog near you...


tanzi said...

"Unleash the beast", eh? In my day that meant something else...

Anyway, dirty jokes aside, congrats on another fine and funny blog. I really hope you don't hurt yourself on that thing! Way to keep your readers in suspense. You'd better not be bleeding or writing from your laptop whilst pinned under the lawnmower/tractor/what-the-hell-ever those hicks call it.

And why were you mowing in the dark??? 9pm is a bit late by my standards.

Sigh. Doesn't it make you ache for the days when you tried to cut the lawn with the scissors and nearly de-thumbed your little sister? She still has the scar, ya know...

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Mowing is exclusively the work of the women? How very peasant-y.

As somebody who mowed both my parent's lawn and the lawn of the lady next door throughout my highschool and university years, I remember all too well the hidden rocks and pipes, the obstacles too close to get between, the terminally damaged surface roots of trees.

I also, sadly, remember having to pour some kind of lighter fluid into the mower to get it started ("not too much," my dad would say).

PS: I hear that apple trees grow better if you mow down the middle branches.

Kimber said...

Yes, Yes - the lighter fluid stuff is so true! My father in law came over because I couldn't start the thing and sprayed ether on the engine, and then told me afterward that I shouldn't do that too often or it might explode. Ack!

Knock off the apple tree jokes, buster. I have clippers and I'm not afraid to use 'em.

Kimber said...

Millie, I am not pinned under the tractor, nor am I proud of the moment when i nearly "de-thumbed" you, as you so poetically put it. You should thank me. Scars make us more interesting.