Sunday, May 27, 2007

Adventures in mowing

I thought this was an interesting article.

It's about the small renaissance of reel mowers, like the one they used to use on the Brady Bunch on the Astroturf backyard? Those non-powered ones that you just pushed and they whirred around and scythed the grass off?

I remember being fascinated with them when I was a kid, a lawn mower that was not gas powered and you just push it casually (and quietly) around and it mowed the lawn. Seemed fun. Like playing. My father has always been a bit of a power guy, so our lawn mowers were always big and loud. (Hell, all our household and lawn appliances were big and loud. Dad likes power, alot. Cars, mowers, go carts, anything that has wheels, and at one point, a small experimental hovercraft. We learned Hovercrafts are VERY hard to steer and you might not want to take them on busy streets for fear of the cops showing up.) They scared me, mowers did, and I refused to ever mow the lawn. I always wished we had a Brady mower.

Cut forward to the mid 90's, when I got my own house. Rich traveled alot and I got stuck with the yard work. So, to indulge my retro-yard urges (and to match our house which is solid and original 1950's and has a fairly small yard) I found a little reel mower. I was so excited with it...I thought, Wow, I can be a Brady too! How retro! I could mow at night if I wanted, it was that quiet. Cool!

It was kind of hard work, though. My arms got really tired. And the blades got kind of dull over time and if you went over a really long patch it would sort of yank the grass instead of mowing it, so you had to go over it multiple times. And sometimes you had to use a weedeater anyhow. Rich refused to use it and bought a power mower. I think maybe he thought my little reel mower was too sissy.

But it was still better than those noisy horrid gas movers, in my opinion.

My parents moved away from where I grew up, and now have a very large yard on their land, and so they have moved up to riding mowers. They have to mow 5-10 acres at a time. (Dad's mower even has a cup holder on it, for Chrissakes.) Once or twice Mom has roped me in to help, and I gotta say, I don't really like riding mowers, either.
Mom would plunk a giant brimmed sun hat on my head, kindly protecting me from sunburn but also severely limiting my eyeline above my forehead. I couldn't see anything higher than about 4 feet off the ground with out tilting my head way back and peering out from under the ridiculous hat. So, one time I was riding around near the house, where some of the bigger trees are, whizzing in between the trees and around them, trying to get the hang of the forward, reverse, and the turning radius of the mower. I thought the tree branches were pretty high, I ran right into a low tree branch with my hat-covered forehead, never even saw it coming, and just went ass over applecorn off the mower and landed on my back behind it, legs in the air and the breath knocked out of me. Luckily the hat and the hardness of my head somehow helped me avoid any untoward injury. The mower, I learned, has an automatic stop so if its rider gets knocked off in a cartoonish accident, it just turns right off. Which was nice, as I didn't think I was up for chasing it out of Mom's flower garden, which was right ahead of me. They haven't asked me to mow again. that's probably more for worrying about the welfare of the trees than anything else.

When we moved to Norway the first place we lived in had an electric mower. It was sort of a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a lawn mower. I thought it was cool. Rich didn't like it much, I seem to remember. Now we have no lawn at all, which I like 90% of the time but sometimes on sunny warm days I just want to lay down in my own grass (I know what's been there as opposed to in the park when God only knows what may have pissed, pooped or whatever'd there).

When we move back home (whenever that may be) I will campaign for another reel mower. I really liked playing Brady, and I liked what the mower did for my shoulders and biceps. But if Rich kicks up a fuss and wants power, maybe he will be willing to compromise on an electric one? We'll have to see.

Anyhow, this long treatise on mowers is my convoluted and very wordy way of saying Happy Memorial Day! (I seem to remember everyone always mowing on this weekend....)

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