Saturday, July 24, 2010

What mowing means

(this picture is not of my yard, just for the record)

I am nothing if not predictable - it's just about time for my annual mid-summer frustration boil-over with mowing the yard and pretty much everything that grows. So if you're not interested in that, I suggest you move on right now.

I went out to Target earlier this afternoon to go and print some digital photos from Heidi's recently found cell phone. While I was out, I noticed that the oppressive humidity we've had for the last week - the "air you wear" as we like to refer to it - had dissipated for the most part and on my way back, I thought "I really should mow the yard." Finding time to get the yard mowed this summer has required nothing less than planetary alignment between my work schedule and what seems like nearly constant rainfall and State Fair temperatures. And of course, said rainfall has left us looking like the Emerald Isle - the grass (and all the other plants in our yard) just won't FUCKING QUIT GROWING.

So when I got back, I put my headphones on and went out and started the mower. I put on a good playlist and got to work, but it wasn't five minutes before I was cursing like a sailor. For one thing, the mower smokes when I use it - I think because the oil-gas mixture I'm using is too rich, even though I followed the mixing directions to the letter. Also, since I can only get to the yard what seems like once a month, it's so tall that the mower constantly plugs up, which leads me to have to stop the mower and stick my hand inside of it and pull the wet, clumped up grass out and then restart it. Every two minutes, I'm doing this. No wonder it takes me so long to get it done. And then there was the humidity. As it turns out, it was still there. I wasn't even half done with the front yard and I had already sweat completely through my shirt and the sweat from my brow was running into my eyes. I used so many bad words, I was almost ashamed of myself. Almost.

As I have said on countless other occasions. I wouldn't mind keeping up the yard if I felt like it did one goddamn bit of good. I don't think it looks particularly good when I'm done with it. Mowing the back yard is like running an obstacle course between Anna's swing set, two bits of stump from a tree we had removed a couple years ago, and various vegetation we've planted. The front yard is something altogether different. Being shaded by a large old oak tree and several others, it actually has the opposite problem of the back yard. NOTHING grows up there. It still needs to be mowed, but you can't ever tell where you've been, so you end up going over the same territory over and over again. It wasn't so bad this time because there were so many leaves down from the storm last week, but still.

So the yard is a big exercise in frustration for me. As you might expect, it's not really the yard I'm mad at, despite my inclination to either set fire to it or to soak the sucker in Round-Up and kill every last piece of vegetation in sight. Mostly, I'm pissed at what the yard represents. My inability to keep the yard up in any sort of reasonable way is perhaps the biggest example of my failure as a homeowner. I feel like I'm missing the gene that is present in all the other suburban dads that spend their time out carefully pruning their shrubs or mowing every 3rd day. I don't care about it. I just fucking don't. And lacking that, what I really should do is hire someone to come and do it for me, but that's so not in the budget right now. So I persevere. I hate it, but I push through it and get it done. It's times like these that I miss the apartment days when someone else came and did all this stuff.

But as much as I say I don't care about, really, I do. I want it to look nice. I'm embarrassed to have people over because I hate how our back yard looks. There's a patch of weeds and thistles that has taken over the spot where the tree that we had taken out used to be. Despite my efforts to keep it cleaned up, it just grows back, usually with greater ferocity than it did before I cut it down. Weeds grow up from in between the cracks in the driveway. I try to keep up with it, but most of the time, it gets the best of me.

I'm so convinced that I have messy issues that I've conveniently wrapped up in being (literally) mad at the dirt. My hatred of the yard and its maintenance is not rational. This summer, admittedly, has been worse than others because I don't think I have worked the same shift two days in a row since May. I am also beyond exhausted from the summer (both physically and mentally) and just thinking about getting out there and doing it makes me tired. And I just fucking hate being hot and sweaty. There are times when being hot and sweaty has a pay off, but let me tell you how it's not when you're out doing yard work.

Ultimately, what makes it hardest is that I can't help but look at the yard and feel like I have failed at adult life somewhere. Outside summer projects taunt me in their chronic state of incompletion, but nothing gets me so much as the yard.

All in all, I need a bumper sticker for the mower that says "I'd rather be fucking snow blowing."

And that's what mowing is all about, Charlie Brown.

1 comment:

mary35 said...

I hate lawn mowing. I have only mowed a lawn once in my life, and I was so bad at it, my parents never asked me to do it again. Hurrah! So, I never look at anyone's lawn. I don't care if there's any landscaping, or if someone has mowed the grass. I'm just not interested. And thank God I don't have to mow! I feel for you.