Romancing the Mower

sepia photo

It starts around 7:30 pm not long after the dinner dishes have been washed; when the west-facing bricks still radiate from the heat of the day, but after the sun has melted into the tree-line and the night jars call to one another from the deep shadows of the woods. Over at the neighbor’s in the unseen distance the sound of a lawnmower starting up, a wavering drone, followed by another, and then my mower roaring to life. I’m covered head to toe: baseball cap, thick gloves, sunglasses, ear muffs, long-sleeved shirt, pants, and boots. This is serious work.

Romancing the Mower An Unrefined Vegan

I come from a short but proud line of females who love to mow. My aunt and my mother and I all find it satisfying. Therapeutic. Alone with our scattered and random thoughts. Time to work out a nagging problem; the emptiness to play out long lost or in-progress dreams. The sound of the engine, muffled by hearing protection, lulls and calms. The handlebar vibrates soothingly. Tomorrow there may be a blister or two, a development that brings great satisfaction. Maybe we just like to see the evidence of work being done: ahead of us an unkempt plot of tangled Bermuda, dandelion, Johnson, crabgrass, and clover; behind us a close shave, smooth and tidy as a putting green.

It’s been this way since the birth of suburbia. As summer twilights creep across both postage-stamp-sized lawns and rolling hilled estates, good, hard-working folks change out of their respectable clothes, heft ungainly red cans of gasoline that bang against knees; they unscrew the dipstick and check the oil with a dirty Kleenex found buried deep in a pocket; they prime and pull and pull again and the engine sputters and catches. The tops of shoes turn green, and moist, torn fragments of grass cling to pant legs. A grasshopper hitches a ride on a hat brim. Soon it’s too dark to see what’s cut and what isn’t, but we press on until every square inch is tamed and sheared. One by one the engines go silent like voices leaving the chorus. The day shutters down completely and the crickets begin to rev their motors. Inside, the oily stink of fossil fuel lingers in nostrils hours later, but open windows let in the cool green smell of grass. The sense of satisfaction, of work well done, of sweating, and toiling, and improving, even if the neatness lasts only a few days. Keeping up with the neighbors, pride of ownership, taming nature. Mediation, problem solving, novel-writing. It’s all there in the simple act of mowing the lawn.

35 thoughts on “Romancing the Mower

  1. Sophie33

    That is great to hear! 🙂 I don’t have grass anymore at my new home. But I don’t miss it. My mother is also the grass mower woman at my parents’s house! An ode to the lovely grass mower! A great pic too! 😉

      1. tearoomdelights

        I did in fact get to it although I only managed part of the grass (there’s quite a bit). I tried to think of it as therapeutic and it did work to some extent, but I think maybe it’s better with a petrol mower like yours whereas I was using an electric one. Half the time I spent mowing was actually spent checking on and relocating the cable is so that I didn’t accidentally chop it up. Without that hassle I think I can see where you’re coming from, it is a satisfying business, especially when you see the lovely results of your work.

  2. biggsis

    I am so with you on this one! That roar that can be so disturbing when I am not the cause contributes to the contemplative nature of the act – blocks out everything but my thoughts and a zen groove of sweat and productivity. Wonderfully primed, throttled and neatened 🙂

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      You get it! Most of the time I’m trying (often failing) to multi-task and I can’t do that when I’m mowing – so it is a kind of meditation. And making the yard look neater appeals to my OCD nature.

  3. Brittany

    What a beautifully written post!! You make lawn mowing sound so peaceful and glamorous! I too enjoy mowing, simply for the OCD fact of watching each section of grass get short. I haven’t mowed in a while, perhaps I shall change that!! LOVE your photo!

  4. mzkynd

    LOL, I have got to find that lawnmowing zen, growing up I think that was my dad’s way as every weekend he was out there mowing and never asked or let me ( not that my pre teen behind minded back then) but now? with 40 acres and a seemingly never ending lawn, I have yet to learn how to like pulling out the push mower and actually liking it 😛

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Funny, my dad would never let me mow either and eventually my mom just took over those duties. Probably to get away from us kids! We have quite a lot of acreage, too, thankfully most of it is pasture so there is only a bit of front and back lawn to tame. Pick a beautiful, not-too-hot evening, put on your messy clothes and give it a try. You might get addicted ;-).

  5. Angela @ Canned Time

    Our lawn is like 10 x 15′ so I mow the neighbor’s too. It is therapeutic and the shower after is always so refreshing in the summer humidity. My husband always feels bad when he comes home and I’ve already mowed. He thinks I do it to make him feel guilty. Little does he now the joys and meditations involved 😉 (great pic ♥)

  6. Isobel Morrell

    Now I enjoy watching others labour around their grass patches. Where I now live, we have someone who positively enjoys sitting on his machine and mowing every dandelion, daisy or other week into submission. You can set the clock (almost) each week that he appears on the lawns surrounding our homes, and the smell of newly cut grass is wonder – especially when it occurs without the need for one to deal with clearing up the cuttings etc.!

    Happy mowing to you though!

  7. Andrea

    We now have a tiny plot to mow and use a hand reel mower left by the former owner. When properly sharpened, it makes the most beguiling chirping sound when it’s pushed through the grass. It surprises me every time. Loved reading your post!

  8. celestedimilla

    Cute, funny photo Annie! Despite the fact that we only have a postage stamp sized plot of grass in our tiny backyard I don’t want to mow it. I let my hubby take care of it, and he does seem to get some satisfaction out of it. I get the satisfaction that it’s one chore that I don’t have to do. Celeste 🙂


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