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THE ROAR OF LAWN MOWING

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 8, 2012

(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!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to “THE ROAR OF LAWN MOWING”

  1. Jenn said

    I have to laugh!! Guess what we mow our lawn with?? Yep– a Reel Mower!! 😀 In an effort to go a little “green” a few years back–and the fact that my husband was sick and tired of FIXING the electric and gas mowers (the new ones seemed to last no longer than a year–call it a streak of bad luck.), he got mad and said, “this one won’t break down”. Other than sharpening the blades every once in awhile–it is the perfect mower and the kids can help and not worry about getting their toes chopped off.

    I remember the overpriced crab grass from Florida. We lived near the water and we did not have that thick grass–it was more of a thinner grass-but it came with those nasty sand spurs. My feet still remember the pain of stepping on one of those!! I get to revisit all that great Floridian life that I miss in April– i can NOT wait!!

    Happy Mowing!!

    Jenn

    Like

  2. This was a really nice post. It brought back lots of memories of mowing the lawn with my Dad on Saturday mornings. He would push the mower and I would hang on to the belt loops of his old jeans and trail behind him. We would pull up weeds with a screwdriver and finish the job off with the hedger.

    To this day, when I hear a lawnmower on a Saturday morning, it’s like music to my ears and it kind of makes me feel alive!

    Happy mowing, Tim!

    Like

  3. ha ha!!!! I dragged my push mower out for the first time yesterday. I love to mow my grass and can’t even fathom having anyone do it for me. I also live out in the sticks, and can let my lawn go for months without any problems from the neighbors. I’ve been working on building a house for the last few years and to be honest my lawn has suffered from it. My kids have also mowed their share of grass and one of them still does. The other lives in an apartment.

    Enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass and have a great time!!!!!!!!

    Cindy 🙂

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    An R.B. of St. Cloud, Minnesota wrote…

    “I or my kid still mow the lawn, however when he was younger he worked for a landscaping company. Now that I’m retired I do it most of the time and you’re correct it is good exercise.”

    An A.S. of North Carolina wrote…

    “I remember moving my parents lawn with a push mower …do kids these days know what one looks like?”

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “When we live in a large suburb, we cut and edged our own lawn, pruned, trimmed, etc. The young yuppie couples enjoyed sneering at us when they passed by, power-walking or jogging. They were paying for lawn service, so they ran around the neighborhood to sweat. They were, in fact, paying for every kind of home maintenance service, including interior painting. I’m pretty sure it was because they didn’t know how to do these tasks. My daughter was the only student in her college dorm with her own power drill and tools. She spliced wires, connected assorted electronics, installed towel bars and put up shelves. Yes, she can cut the grass and she cooks, too. Parents who do not teach their children basic home maintenance skills do them a great disservice. I learned to paint trim and walls at age 8. Mom said anyone who can hold a fork can hold a paintbrush. She was right.”

    A G.M. of Meerssen, the Netherlands wrote…

    “A lawn mower is a tool or device for cutting lawn grass. There are many types of lawn mowers which are designed for certain purposes. You can buy cheap mowers anywhere. Lawn mower machines are the top tools used for maintaining lawn yard grass. It was invented in the year 1827 by Edwin Budding. Lawn mowers make grass cutting faster and easier.”

    A P.M. of Marksville, Louisianna wrote…

    “I enjoyed this read, I have mowed lawn, my husband, sons, and most of my daughters.”

    A W.K. of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania wrote…

    “NO!, NO!..don’t stop!…home grown lawnmowers unite! I still mow four acres every week, but I use for the most part a bright orange Kubota, supplemented by a John Deere rider and I still so my sodded patch of ‘perfection grass’ with a reel mower. I still have the reel mower we used in California during the years of 1964-1969 and can’t bear to put it on the scrap heap.”

    A C.L. of New Jersey wrote…

    “There’s a solution to lawnmowing… it’s called pachysandra. As it does best in the partial to full shade, though, it might not do to well in Florida… do you have any trees left in the state? The more that stuff creeps across my lawn, the less I have to do… with any luck it will have completely taken over in another couple of years and I can get rid of my lawnmower.”

    A J.P. of Toronto, Ontario wrote…

    “Still shovelling snow up here…..”

    An S.G. of Illinois wrote…

    “My respect for you just ticked up a couple notches.”

    A K.S. of Oklahoma wrote…

    “Mowing your own lawn is neither a feat of strength nor an act of stupidity. I still mow my own lawn. I feel a sense of pride that I can do my own work in my own time without having to PAY someone else to do what is my responsibility. In our home, we feel the same way about cleaning services. We should be able to clean our own homes without having to pay some service to do it for us. ‘But it frees up time’, you say? Well if you do not have time to take care of your own home, you need to cut out some activities.”

    A L.S. of Monterey Bay, California wrote…

    “This was a really nice post. It brought back lots of memories of mowing the lawn with my Dad on Saturday mornings. He would push the mower and I would hang on to the belt loops of his old jeans and trail behind him. We would pull up weeds with a screwdriver and finish the job off with the hedger. To this day, when I hear a lawnmower on a Saturday morning, it’s like music to my ears and it kind of makes me feel alive! Happy mowing, Tim!”

    A C.M. of Dayton, Tennessee wrote…

    “Ha ha!!!! I dragged my push mower out for the first time yesterday. I love to mow my grass and can’t even fathom having anyone do it for me. I also live out in the sticks, and can let my lawn go for months without any problems from the neighbors. I’ve been working on building a house for the last few years and to be honest my lawn has suffered from it. My kids have also mowed their share of grass and one of them still does. The other lives in an apartment. Enjoy the smell of fresh cut grass and have a great time!!!!!!!!”

    A K.E. of California wrote…

    “We too are the only ones around to mow…Seems it just isn’t something people like to do.”

    An E.W. of Florida wrote…

    “I too used a push lawnmower as a kid in the New Haven area of Connecticut and remember it with mixed emotions. Our dad was a taskmaster – somewhat akin to an army D.I. and equally fearsome. Work was an art form to him. By the way, I’m an archaeologist who wore out his knees & retired. Just couldn’t get those surgeons – or my mechanic – to install grease fittings when they would have been helpful. Foresight is most effective when coupled with the current state of technology. One of the reasons America’s struggling so much with it’s challenges is because your neighbors consider yard work demeaning to themselves & their children. They are a microcosm of the dilemma. I’m Israeli – American and such thinking is mostly alien to that Middle Eastern culture. Over there, you do what you must and stifle complaints. Most everyone knows how to think outside the box regularly. People here could learn much from the Sabras.”

    Like

  5. Ah Tim – I’m also old enough to remember those glorious old reel mowers. There was something about pushing one of them, listening to the rhythmic snipping of grass, that really takes me back to my childhood.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’d never trade it for my ride-on mower that I use today(!), but they definitely have a place in my heart.

    Hopefully your riding mower won’t break again any time soon – like you mentioned it can be a real pain to repair (and expensive too!).

    Cheers! And happy mowing! 😀

    Like

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