The Old Man And The Lawn

I would prefer a jungle to this pansy urban lea. I would prefer, with rifle in hand, facing a charging lion to the cranky calico the saunters through my yard. He is a snobby, ineffectual creature who cannot even bother to chase the field mice in the ivy. I would prefer a dank pith helmet to this adolescent “Rangers” cap. It is insulting headgear but necessary even in this pale sun. I would prefer elsewhere.

But I must mow. I have before, will today, and will again. There is no fighting the rules of nature. It’s best to tighten the belt and slog through the repetition, up and back, side to side, without complaints or bitterness. Some men make me sick with their whining about yard work, good clean labor. Honest effort repaid with order and praise of women, though such flimsy reward should rarely motivate a man. We do best what do do honestly for ourselves.

No equipment for me driven by gas or other external power. My bones and muscles and grit are engine enough. The soft whirring of the revolutions of the push mower is soothing. I alone control the speed with which the tender grass falls beneath my blades. Careful and precise, leaving no missed patches in my wake, the lawn flattens and smooths. Old inequalities evened. I will not stop until the plain is level and good.

The edging is next, always second to the bigger task. There is an order to be followed in life. To the laughing of my mate who lolls like a useless feline on a chaise on the porch, watching the work be accomplished, I appear with my wheeled manual edger. Good enough for generations of men before me. A good tool which requires effort, steadfastness, and patience. All these are made better by practice.

Down the walkway, clean and bold on both sides. Order restored, clarity of path renewed by my own hands. Then down the sidewalk and back the other side, leaving no stray shoots and wayward stems. My work is exact and true. My mate throws her head back to laugh at my last ridiculous flourish with the edger. It is a weakness of mine to desire her laughter. Such a little thing amuses her, and though I inwardly deride such foolishness, there is a manly satisfaction in toying with her.

Finally, weeding the weakling petunias, a despised floral gewgaw she insists is mandatory. Flimsy decoration for our good, sturdy home. Cultivating the silly while plucking out good green growing things deemed inappropriate only for their location. Down the walkway, front door to sidewalk and back. There is so much repetition in urban life.

I would prefer the jungle, the lion, the sweat-soaked khakis of a hunt, but today, now, this will do. I will not complain of boredom, tedious duty, a risk-free afternoon fit for a boy. I will stow my equipment, consign myself to a chair on the porch near her, and take the fresh cold can she offers. Life could be better. It could be worse. We have only to see it through.


  1. It sounds like Harry dutifully rounding our grassy areas wearing his old Fort Mojave Fire Department floppy hat with a hole in the crown from years of wear and weather washed to a very faded bluish black color.


  2. Well said, Bwana. Driving a Land Rover mower, toting a Mannlicher, & sporting a pith helmet. Crab grass doesn’t stand a chance. Finish the task by edging with a Gurkha kukri. Put the fear of God into your neighbors. Have some fun, damn it.


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