When we moved to Indiana, my father-in-law kindly donated his “seasoned” Snapper riding mower to our almost-one-acre of land. (The fact that he wanted a new, zero-turn radius mower sweetened the deal). Husband Joe was up to the task of tackling the brambles, branches and bushes as well as neatly mowing and trimming the grass.
The first mow of the season took two and a half days – not solid mowing time of course and only during daylight hours. Adjustments needed to be made to the seat, spark plugs, carburetor and blade. And, it quickly came to our attention that mowers need oil. Who knew? Joe’s dad knew. However, Joe and I were new mower owners so it was only when the engine began making a terrible noise that we learned this important fact.
Our house is built on a small hill with a down-sloping lawn to the back of the house. Joe’s dad cautioned us that whatever we did, we needed to make sure that we didn’t ride the mower over the thin strip of grassy hill between the house and the slope leading to the 20-foot-round, above-ground pool. The sky was the limit and the world our oyster in cutting the front and back lawns with our mower, turning to and fro to ensure straight even lines of cut grass.
Because of mosquitoes and poison ivy, Joe donned a mowing outfit complete with old tennis shoes taped together with silver electrical tape, pants with a snazzy tool loop, long-sleeved shirt, baseball cap and environmental mask (to protect against dust and pollen). This fashion statement was finished off like a cherry atop an ice cream sundae by yellow radio headphones.
Did I mention that we wanted to save money by mowing our own grass? The local lawn service wanted $70 per visit to keep on top of our little stretch of land. It was Saturday and in the middle of one of the first mowing sessions, Joe came into the house quietly and reached for his car keys. “I bumped the pool,” he said. Outside, there were chirping birds and springtime quiet.
I looked out the kitchen window to see that the mower had slid down the hill and was now lodged between Mother Earth and the metal side of the pool. The pool was no longer completely round, having taken on a pregnant kidney bean shape. I didn’t know you could mow the grass at a 45-degree angle. Joe confirmed that this was indeed impossible.
Ninety dollars and a wench from the hardware store later, Joe wrapped the chain around a tree and shored it up to our Honda’s bumper (which was still thank goodness attached to the car, now conveniently located in the backyard.) He got into the car and put it into drive. The chain made a little squeaking sound and broke apart. Another trip to our trusty hardware store yielded a stronger chain. The mower was slowly raised up out of the abyss while the birds finished their song and the sun set in the evening sky. Mowing resumed the next day.
- Donated mower – free
- 1 industrial strength wench – $90
- 1 chain – $25
- 1 stronger chain – $40
- Sheer personal satisfaction of cutting one’s own grass – priceless