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Thursday, March 8, 2012

THE ROAR OF LAWN MOWING

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I have been mowing lawns for 46 years now. When I was a kid in Connecticut, my family had a reel mower; you know, one of those plain push mowers where the blades twirl faster as you push the mower. When we moved to Chicago in the mid-60's my father bought our first power mower at Montgomery Ward. The engine only turned the blade; you still had to push it as there was no self-propulsion. Over the years I've had a variety of lawn mowers, both push and riders. The fact remains though, year after year I've been mowing my lawn. I've had help from my son over the years, but now he is off to college, leaving me to fend for myself again.

In my neighborhood, I'm one of the few guys remaining who mows his own lawn, if not the only one. People stare at me as they drive by my house while I'm mowing. I guess they think I'm either eccentric, too poor to hire a lawn service, or maybe I'm a lawn service worker myself. Actually, I don't mind doing the lawn as it is an excellent way for me to get some exercise, and I take great pride in my work if I can get the lawn to look the way I want it to.

Most of the people in my neighborhood use a lawn service. I don't think I have ever seen a youth in our subdivision push a lawnmower either. As for my family, both my son and daughter have taken their turn with the lawn mower over the years, but mostly the burden fell to the boy. I've always looked upon such work as a great way to teach responsibility and pride in workmanship. Over the years, my son has learned to use all of my power tools and is now pretty handy with them. He also understands safety issues as well. I've asked some of my friends why they don't have their children mow their lawn and they look at me incredulously like I've taken leave of my senses. I guess they're afraid their kids might learn Spanish and become professional landscapers. As for me, I've always seen it as a way to teach children how to carry their weight in the household. Then again, I guess I'm old fashioned.

Down here in Florida, the main type of grass we have is Floratam St. Augustine, or just plain "Floratam," which was developed to resist all the little bugs and critters we have in our soil down here. It's not quite the same type of grass as you find up north which looks thin and puny by comparison. Actually, I think down here they've got us all conned into believing that Floratam is something special when, in reality, it is nothing but an expensive form of crab grass.

It's interesting the ensemble of lawn tools you collect and use over the years. In addition to the lawn mower, I have a fertilizer spreader, an edger, a weedwhacker, a hedger, a chain saw, different pruning clippers, saws, rakes, etc. It can become quite an investment in equipment if you want to do the lawn yourself. No wonder I get Christmas cards from Home Depot and Lowes.

The only thing I dislike about mowing is when the mower breaks down, which happened to me recently. I have a riding mower and a bolt popped out causing the undercarriage to fall off and snapped a belt. It wouldn't be a big deal if was a push mower, but because it is a rider, I had to schedule an appointment for it to be fixed and call on a friend with a truck to help me move it which, frankly, is a pain in the ass. Otherwise, when the mower is working properly I can get it done in no time at all.

While the lawn mower was in the shop for repair, which was for a few weeks, I arranged to have a service come in to take care of the lawn for me, and I admit they did a remarkable job. However, it seemed very strange to me not to mow the lawn and I started to go through withdrawal symptoms. I know I won't be able to take care of the lawn forever and at some point I'll have to acquiesce the responsibility to someone else. I suppose it's been a matter of pride and determination for me (or just plain stubbornness). I guess I fear someone saying, "What? You're getting too old to do the lawn?" Maybe I'm just confused; that mowing lawns for over 50 years is not so much considered a feat of strength, but an act of stupidity. I'm not sure which.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.