Here’s the only thing I learned this week that’s worth remembering: If the sun is out, mow the damn lawn. I was so embroiled in deadline that I somehow felt I couldn’t take 45 minutes off to cut the grass at my house-sitting job.
“Later,” I kept saying, until “later” turned into “tomorrow.” Except that it rained that day.
And just about every other day, until the house was the only one on the block with a prairie view. At which point it rained again.
On Sunday I woke to partial sun. A few hours later I decided the grass was as dry as it was going to get without global warming. I put on my grubs and pulled the mower, the string trimmer and the 50-foot cord out of the garage.
By then, it was starting to look like rain.
There goes the neighborhood
The grass had gotten so thick that the mower seemed to have trouble chewing. A couple of times I thought it might need the Heimlich maneuver. I felt like a prize idiot, especially since the lawns on either side were neatly barbered. When, exactly, had that been accomplished? Had there been a long and sunny day when I wasn’t looking?
Clots of chewed grass stuck to my really old flip-flops. My toes were dyed the color of an anemic leprechaun. With every step I felt dumber: Why hadn’t I taken care of this when the sun was out?
I sensed neighbors tsk-tsking behind their curtains. On the other hand, they may have been rejoicing: Finally the shiftless house-sitter is doing something about that savanna of a front yard! Maybe our property values will go back up.
Next time I’ll do better, I vowed.
Then the string trimmer broke.
The trimmer’s engine was humming but cowlicks of fescue still sprung wildly around the edges of the rock garden and the entry ramp. Oh, great. First I grow a yard so lush I practically needed to rent a goat, and now I’ve broken a piece of lawn equipment.
I unplugged the trimmer and turned it upside down. The string was barely visible. When I tried to pull it out, the string retreated like a turtle into its shell. “Outta ammo,” I sighed, and looked in the garage for a replacement head. No luck. I’d have to stick my green feet into shoes and head for the home improvement store.
But what if the string really wasn’t at its end? What if it was simply taunting me? I decided to try and open the unit. It took some doing, and my fingers were soon the color of my toes, but I finally popped open the housing. Loads of string left!
I pulled out a few inches, juggled and struggled until I got the unit closed, and fired up the trimmer once more. Green confetti flew in a most satisfying fashion. No more fescue cowlicks!
Those of you who are old pros at lawn care are probably holding your sides by now. Please allow me my small sense of victory. I’ve never owned a string trimmer and had no idea how they worked. Any time I fix something – even if it’s not actually broken – I feel very happy.
So what have we learned today?
Make hay while the sun shines, i.e., mow on the first nice day you get. It takes less than an hour, for crying out loud.
Put on sunscreen first. My face began to sting while I wrote this. Having had a skin cancer removed, I’m supposed to use it any time I step outside. (See “prize idiot,” above.)
If the grass is really thick and also wet, the mower wheels mash it down. Despite a lot of backtracking and overlapping, I expect I’ll have to re-do certain areas once they’re good and dry. Which may be as soon as this evening, since the clouds rolled away as soon as I was finished.
And here’s the most irritating lesson: A lawn-care website informed me that mowing grass while it’s wet makes it vulnerable to fungus. The neighbors’ property values may drop back down again.
Next time I’ll just rent a goat.