2009-09-03 / News

More skills I don’t have

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

There are some things I am not good at. Math is one. Whistling is another. I have just discovered yet another thing I can put on my list of failures: I am not good at mowing the lawn.

This has been such a busy week for us that the lawn has gone un-mowed for several days, so rather than complain about it, I volunteered to tackle the job. In past years, I never mowed the lawn because I am not strong enough to operate a pull start. Now, we have an electric-start mower and there is no excuse. How hard could it be?

Well, it is hard, and I know this first-hand because it’s hot, I’m soaked in sweat and I’m looking at the grass I just mowed and realizing that there are tuffets all over the place. I don’t think I have the patience or the attention span to mow a lawn properly. I watch my husband do this job every week and he seems to stick to a specific track. In some areas of the yard, he goes back and forth, while in others, he starts at the outside edges and goes in concentric rings until he gets to the middle. I started out on his regular route, but got distracted about every 30 seconds.

Look! Dog droppings. Look! Brown patches. Look! Shrubs that have been gnawed on by the puppy.

My brain kept making me look at everything except the lawn and now I have a job not so well done. I think I combined the back and forth method with the concentric option and ended up with a course that resembles a bowl of linguini. This makes me appreciate my husband all the more. Even though I put in a hard hour on our half-acre property, I still did not finish the job. My husband seems to be able to knock the whole thing off in about 45 minutes. And, there are no tuffets.

I know a grass guru. The guy next door is the real lawnmowing expert in the neighborhood. He’s at it about every four days and when the job is done, it looks like a professional ballpark — stripes, patterns and all. I see him out my window, pushing that mower with a posture and attitude as if he was the grand marshal in a parade. He doesn’t have any weeds, either. The grass is strictly composed of fat blades of lush green. It is a lawn to be envied.

You’d think I’d learn something from him.

Our lawn is a mishmash of clover, purslane, switch grass, moss, rocks and many other uninvited guests. You don’t really notice the patchwork of species when it’s nicely mowed. Only when all the different plants grow in their own unique ways do you see that we have cultivated every type of weed that grows in this climate. My favorite is the clover. It is always green and doesn’t get any bare patches. It also attracts bees and forms a nice, cushy surface – perfect for a dog nap. If it was up to me, I’d plant the entire lawn in clover, but that would require digging up all the other stuff, which I do not have the time or patience to do.

Occasionally, my husband vacuums the house. The first time he did this – a couple of years ago – he vacuumed just like he mows the lawn. He would make a long pass the entire length of a room, then do a tight 180-degree turn at the end and make a parallel pass next to the first one until he got to the other side. I was hysterical the first time I witnessed this and even questioned him about his modus operandi. He shrugged me off and kept on vacuuming. He did an excellent job. I don’t laugh at him anymore and am very thankful that he wants to help around the house. Now that I have mowed the lawn my way, it’s leading me to wonder if I am also a failure at vacuuming. With the grass, it’s easy to see your mistakes – they stick up like sore thumbs all over the yard. With vacuuming, the dust lies completely flat, or repositions itself under pieces of furniture. It’s hard to see individual specks of whatever dust is. I’m certain I don’t get all of them.

So, my lawn is looking a little hairy at the moment, but it’s not the end of the world. I have learned to appreciate that there are skills and talent required to do a good job at mowing and even if I don’t possess them, at least I know a couple of people who do.

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