Tuesday, March 31, 2009

FUTURE FEATHERED LAWNMOWER?

One crisp afternoon last fall my only working lawnmower decided to self-destruct. I can’t say its death was unexpected, for its life had been long and filled with heavy labor, doing yeoman service well above its small size and original bargain-basement price. Moreover, the poor machine had suffered much early abuse before finding its way into my grateful hands. It is to the little lawnmower’s credit, I think, that its chosen suicide date coincided, more or less, with the last of the grass growing season. Bushels of fallen leaves from the yard’s many trees would conceal any subsequent grass growth from the gaze of an overly-critical neighbor. Out of sight, out of mind. I could therefore wait until spring before purchasing a replacement. So the recently expired mower was hauled to its deserved hereafter at the local scrap dump. Soon thereafter its heftier and originally pricier kin—a good-looking, expensive mower that a friend had given me the year before, which he confessed hadn’t worked well from the day of its purchase, but was making him crazy trying to coax along—was hauled from the shed and bestowed on a neighbor. Along with the full story and a promise that even if he fixed the thing, he wouldn't bring it back. I did this not because I particularly like the neighbor (though he’s okay in his way) but because the still-shiny beast mower wouldn’t run for me either, nor for any shade-tree mechanic or small-engine wizard I knew who’d tried to fix it. However, in its non-working inertness, the cursed thing proved a sure-fire bet for shooting blood pressure and frustration levels through the roof. I knew if I kept it around, sooner or later it would induce violence—though I did temporarily toy with the potential enjoyment I might find in administering various forms of rough justice. The cowboy cure of sixgun lead raised some fear of where any ricocheting bullets might end up. The alternative of a severe clubbing led to worries about hurting my back. Of course I love and respect my river too much to drown bad junk by tossing it into the deepest pool. Nope, the wiser and safer course seemed to be to give the mower to the neighbor and assume he would eventually choose the mower's proper punishment. Having thus divested myself of dysfunctional lawnmowers, I've done nothing from November until now to remedy the situation. Yes, I’ve been looking, pricing, shopping…but have yet to actually put hard-earned cash on the counter. In the meantime, spring is here and the grass is growing, albeit slowly, and I know I must soon find a replacement. I’m now wondering if that replacement didn’t just waddle past my window in the form of browsing Canada geese. Five minutes ago I looked up from my desk and saw this fine feathered fellow plucking his way along—snatching up a beakful of grass here, another there. His more reserved mate followed behind. I know it’s a lot of yard for two geese, but then…if the pair will get to nesting, it won’t always be two geese. Too, I can live with the ragged look of their mowing by simply chalking it up to a more “natural look.” Even better, I’ll no longer have to follow a clattering lawnmower around, breathing its fumes, listening to its racket, sweating and trying to dodge sticks and debris which might occasionally spew from underneath. Plus—and here my Celtic blood possibly skews my viewpoint ever so slightly—I won’t have to invest in a fancy piece of mechanical gear. As to those, um, after-deposits for which geese are rightly famous, I’ll just pay more attention to where I step and not let a bit of fertilizer come between me and my feathered lawnmowers. And if the plan doesn't work out…well, this might be the first lawnmower that ever graced the table as Christmas dinner.

10 comments:

Rowan said...

I really like your new lawnmowers - very stylish. You could always get a couple of goats to help them out as well. Or put a Canada decoy on the river and try to recruit further members for your lawnmower gang:) I get the feeling that you were rather fond of your old mower and secretly miss it - it certainly doesn't owe you anything by the sound of it, hardworking and considerate too.

giggles said...

Are you ready for the "fertilizer" to follow???!!!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rowan…

Goats! They'd eat my daffodils! And roses. And who knows what else before I ate them.

Right now, it's homemaking season for the Canadas hereabouts. They're paired up or off in gangs of rowdy juveniles or geese too ugly/old/mean to find mates. Not much chance of adding to the current flock.

Nope, gotta stick with my couple and hope for the best. And hey, you're wrong about missing that old mower—the little one now rusting in the dump, not the big one driving my neighbor to a drinking problem; the suicidal mower did its job but was never particularly efficient. In order for it to be sold cheaply in the first place, the manufactures left off every component possible. This included things such as a spark-plug shield, which meant every time a blade of grass, flower, or leaf touched the plug's unshielded tip, the motor stalled. The motor was too small, underpowered, which meant I had to keep the blade razor sharp in order to cut my grass—otherwise I just bruised it a bit. I could go on. But…and here's the point…much as I hate to admit it, I put up with all this because the thing ran and more or less did the job, plus it had been free—and I was simply too cheap to buy a new one as long as this one got me by.

But if the geese don't work out, I assure you I'll move on to a new lawnmower without a single regret—except maybe the occasional twitch from my wallet.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

I am! It really isn't a problem until flip-flop weather, when one might then step inadvertently upon such offerings, slip as if on ice, and fall on one's…bum. Which might be immediately followed by certain loud language.

But I've lived around geese before—and I know to be wary.

Jenn Jilks said...

I love the post. We had given up an electric mower for a mechanical one. Then, we moved to My Muskoka. Then, I replaced the grass (I swear my parents put down sod all those years ago) with clover. We have all sorts of critters that like it.

Guinevere watches over it all.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jenn…

Humm-m? You know, I'd never thought of clover…

My plan is to plant beds and beds of flowers and herbs, English Cottage Garden style, and have only minimal grass in what I think of as my "back" yard. This would be above the septic tank and leach bed, though I actually have yards on either side of the cottage, with a stone patio to the rear (I'm installing that this spring) plus a parking area and decks to the front and side, overlooking the river. The grass area where the goose is foraging would be flowers and stepping stone or graveled paths. But I could maybe substitute clover for some sections and in the back yard and forget a mower entirely.

I take it Guinevere is the dragon?

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Wonderful! Geese would be much more fun than a mechanical mower!

The lawns are so sloping here that I had to get a tiny lightweight mower that wouldn't skid heavily down to the bottom of the slope. Looking out of the window at night after mowing I always see hordes of snails munching their way across the grass. If it is the grass they are chewing and not just the weeds, maybe they could be trained to do this before mowing!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Raph…

I'll bet my geese would love your snails!

And you're sure right—a clattering mower isn't all that interesting. I'd rather watch geese, or snails…or giraffes.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

A wonderful solution to your problem. And, not needing to walk behind as you follow a mower back and forth, maybe those after-deposits won't matter.
Wouldn't it be great if nature could take of itself?
Or if we could modify our expectations to accept the care nature offers.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Nina…

It would certainly solve some problems—hand over the care and feeding of nature to…nature. Brilliant! And I'm all for allowing nature to take care of me.

Now if I can just get my geese to trim around the roses and not eat my daffodils!