When one of my friends, a native Seattleite, visited the Deep South for the first time, he was astounded by the amount of space folks have, including the biggest lawns he’d ever seen. At my house here in Seattle, we cut what grass there is (and by “we” I mean Geoff) with a weed whacker. We’ve got a lovely English-style garden in the back, but the grass in front doesn’t even justify a push mower. The house where I grew up, though, is a whole ‘nother story. One that involves a riding lawn mower.
Like many Southern folks, we lived out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods on all sides and, yes, a ginormous yard. One of my greatest thrills as a kid was getting to ride along as my dad mowed the lawn. Even today the smell of freshly mown grass makes me giddy with nostalgia. Ok, maybe giddy is too strong a word. Let’s go with “slightly less cranky than usual.”
As much as I loved going along for the ride, I couldn’t wait for that glorious rite of passage: Driving the lawn mower all by myself. Looking back, it might have been wise for me to practice before being set loose, but I reckon failure is how we learn. I’ll never forget the feeling of taking the reins for the first time: one part elation, three parts terror. As soon as I took off, I headed straight up the huge oak tree. Sadly, this would not be the last time a vehicle under my power would come in contact with a tree, but I shouldn’t digress…
I’m sure I panicked. I most likely screamed. I definitely concluded that mowing the lawn was not for me. Now that I think about it, this childhood trauma is probably what caused me to abhor yard work of any kind. (Or at least it sounds like a better excuse than “Bugs. Worms. Dirt. ICK!”)
I’m sure the bike-riding granola folks here in Seattle would be horrified by the oversized carbon footprints left by gas-powered riding lawn mowers. I admit, they’re not exactly, well, “green.” But when you consider the Herculean task of cutting an acre or so on a sweltering summer day, I bet even Ed Begley Jr. would happily hitch a ride.
Photo credits, Flickr Creative Commons: Riding lawn mower by WindRanch, push mower by Dan Cederholm.