Like many of you I started a job this week that will take me months to complete – mowing the yard. I say yard, because that is what most of us country folk call it. Rich people and those living in town have lawns; we have yards. Lawns often contain exotic manicured grasses and plants. Country yards are green, or at least they will be when last year’s dead crabgrass is finally overtaken by this year’s dandelions. I once succumbed to peer pressure and began spraying, fertilizing, and seeding my yard – trying to convert it into a lawn. But, the first time my toddler son picked me a dandelion I recognized their value in the grand scheme of things and now allow them to peacefully coexist with the many other unknown varieties of green things that make up my country yard.
There is always a great deal of anticipation that comes with the first mowing; will the mower start, will I ever find the gas can, and lately, will I be able to afford filling the five-gallon can. Now don’t misunderstand, later in the summer I will come to hate mowing and will search for most any excuse to avoid it, but now it is a rite of passage into spring. The air is warm with just a hint of spring coolness in the breeze. The sun shines bright, and birds chirp merrily as I prepare for the seasons’ maiden voyage. A few pounds of air in the tires, a few squirts of grease, and a short prayer as the key is turned for the first time. Ignition! The big engine roars to life, reminding me I forgot to insert my hearing protectors. I sometimes wear headphones that allow me to listen to news or music while mowing, but lately all the news is bad and the music worse. No, today I opt for the little foam plugs that offer only solitude and meditation. What a great opportunity to plan all the projects of summer that I will, most likely, fail to complete.
A few last minute adjustments and I bring the long dormant blades into action. Clippings begin flying and the smell of green onions is again in the air. The last vestiges of winter began to disappear as I settle comfortably into the annual routine. By the time I have made a few passes it is difficult to recall that recently this area was a snowman manufacturing center. I remember this clearly as I strike a small pile of soft drink lids, which made such wonderful buttons for the rounded torsos.
I am mystified by the dense beauty of the grass near the septic tank, and now understand why most politicians have such great hair. A learning moment! Mmmmm…the sweet fragrance of magnolia blossoms; I have admired their white beauty across the yard for several days, but today the breeze delivers a special treat.
What’s that? A bee! The first one of the season! I am careful to let him fly away safely. Hopefully he will repay my kindness by making my tomatoes sweeter and juicier.
Overhead, a buzzard is slowly circling, probably waiting to get me if boredom forces me to fall from the mower. I point at him and in a rare telepathic moment he seems to realize it is much too early in the season for him to have a real chance. He slowly drifts out of my airspace and on to more promising hunting grounds. He and I both know there will be many more opportunities as the season progresses.
A couple of hours pass like the spring breeze and I return the mower to the barn shed. With the ear plugs removed I am, once again, acutely aware of the sounds of spring. Yes, winter is finally over and God has seen fit to deliver us into another of his wonderful seasons. In the back of my mind I know that spring and summer will undoubtedly bring busy schedules, and mowing will become a chore that I will scarcely have time to complete, but not today! Today I have welcomed this mystical season, with all its’ hope and possibilities, and it has welcomed me with all its’ grandeur.
And once again, all is right with the world in Hardscratch, Kentucky.