As I’m sure you all know, yard work, gardening and landscaping is good exercise and hard work. You’re outside in the sun, flexing your muscles, bringing beauty to your little strip of the earth. What can go wrong?
When it was cool and wet this winter I made the executive decision to do all the yard work myself from now on. That equates to two acres of mowing, edging, weed killing, raking, seeding, fertilizing, hedge trimming, more raking and on and on and on. Immediately after making that decision, feeling like a young, strong filly, I picked up a heavy box. My back reminded me in no uncertain terms that I’m really an old, gray mare. A few weeks later, barely able to swing my leg up to get into my van, I decided to try out a ride-on mower at a dealership. Sure enough, I bought one of those “zero turn” mowers. How hard can it be? They do all the work, right?
It took nearly a week for the mower to be delivered. I suspect the dealer finally had to draw straws to see which unlucky employee would have to deliver the mower and instruct this old lady in its use. It was spring vacation and the youngest kid in the shop drew the short straw. He pulled in to my circular driveway in the company’s new white pick-up and easily drove my mower down the attached trailer ramp. He filled the mower with gas, gave me a few instructions and turned the reins over to me.
Have you ever been in a “souped up” car and put your foot down hard on the gas pedal? Yah, it was like that. Eeee, hah! The kid had said you simply bring the two bars that are on each side of the mower to the middle, release the brake and push the bars forward. Except…those steering bars are super, super, oh so sensitive. I shot away down the lawn, tried to pull back, but turned left, then overcompensated and turned right. Whoa, Nellie! The young guy’s eyes were big with fear.
“You’ll get used to it, ” He said quietly. You could tell he was raised a respectful Southerner. He was a perfect gentleman, no laughter, no swearing, but with perfect timing he turned around and got into the white truck. At the same time I slowly moved erratically across the front lawn as the kid looked back at me in his rear view mirror. Oh, the story he must have told back at the dealership.
I was laughing hysterically to myself as I fumbled with the mower’s steering bars. What a horse’s ass I am sometimes. Whatever gave me the idea to use a professional mower all by myself? I thought I heard the sound of beer tabs opening as the neighbors sat down on their porches to watch the crazy dog lady mow.
It’s cool that you can circle a bush closely and then move on. Oops. One of my blueberry bushes got a military haircut. Too close.
There were areas I was afraid to go near so the session ended within thirty minutes. No way was I going to move slowly up to a tall tree, pull back, pull right to turn and push the left handle to go forward. I tried my first “zero” turn and like a bucking bronco the mower took off, It’s all about timing, or lack thereof in my case.
The front lawn looked like it had been through the first day of Woodstock. But, hey, it was mowed…by me…on a big red mower. Who knew?
As the weeks have progressed I’ve gone from-how do you start this thing, to-how do you turn it off to-feeling, dare I say, a bit confident. Bars way over to the side, set the brake, raise the mower deck, and turn the key off. Phew.
I’ve mowed too close to fences and found holes in the lawn that practically bounced me out my bra cups. But last week, I mowed THE HILL. It’s not a really big, big hill but if I turned the wrong way going down at the wrong angle I’d for sure end up meeting some good-looking paramedics. So the first attempt down the hill was very tentative; slowly, slowly, I turned the mower straight down the hill. Heck, what was I nervous about? It was easy.
Still there are areas that need a small mower. So as one friend said, I got a mower for my mower, a small red Honda, self-propelled with a new and improved item that some dear person invented I’m sure just for me, an auto choke. No more gazillion pulls to start the mower. Life is good. Little red would fill in for the tight spaces where I was not brave enough to take the big red monster.
The only part of the deal that I hate is putting gas in the mowers. Gas cans are made for men with tough calloused hands. You hold down a piece of plastic on the can’s nozzle with one thumb and pour the gas. Ouch, stop, repeat. The outcome is usually gas on my fingers and two tablespoons of gas in the mower. Once again, all the men in the world disappear so no white knight ever arrives to help me. Suck it up, Buttercup, as they say here in the South.
The end result of all this work is tanned arms, red ant bites on my legs and a broken arm from patting myself on the back.
I am woman, hear me roar. Cough, cough.