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.