I Don’t Do Mow

The other day I drove past my rental house and discovered that my tenants had worked wonders with the yard. Not only was the lawn mowed, but there were pretty flowers in pots on the front stoop, little fences around various plantings, and questionably tasteful yet charming lawn art here and there. In the back, they had placed a few tables and chairs with cheerful little umbrellas.

In other words, they’re taking much better care of the place than I did when I lived there. It kind of feels like I won the lottery. I don’t ever want them to leave.

And as the cherry on top of the yardwork sundae, I have married a man who actually enjoys mowing the lawn! That, in and of itself, makes him quite a catch, even though it’s a tendency I can’t relate to at all. He says he likes the mindless physicality of it, and takes pride in how beautiful things look afterward. I’m glad he isn’t into toxic chemicals to make the grass even greener. That we agree on. So more power to him, I say.

Personally, I can think of no bigger waste of time than mowing. Manicured lawns are a foible that has been visited upon us by the French. It’s not what our yards want to do with themselves, and no one should have to put so much work into keeping up appearances. We mow to follow rules that we’ve imposed upon ourselves. Nature could care less about our stinking rules.

I think all yards should have native plantings. I think if we all were to xeriscape, the planet would be in much better shape. So much water is wasted on lawns, and so much damage is done when we fertilize them.

I think we should all plant fruit trees and let the neighbors help themselves. I think we should have vegetable gardens to teach our children what real food is supposed to taste like. I also think weeds have as much right to exist as anything else. I want rabbits to want to hang out in my yard.

In the first house I owned, I planted confederate ivy in the front instead of grass. I never watered it. I never did anything to it, other than occasionally cut it back so it wouldn’t choke the sidewalk and cause a tripping hazard. I lived there for 23 years.

I’m sure my husband would be horrified, but not overly surprised, to know that if he were ever abducted by aliens, the yard would wind up looking extremely different than it does now. Things would definitely be encroaching upon one another. Survival of the fittest.

Watching people sweat behind gas propelled machines on a beautiful sunny day seems to me to be the biggest waste of life and the worst of ecological insults. We should all be on our knees, getting our hands dirty, working the soil and planting for food, beauty, and the chance to do something, anything, other than mow.

Natural garden

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Don’t Overdo

Your body is one smart cookie. It tries to talk to you all the time. Are you listening?

It’s really tempting to push through pain and exhaustion to finish up what you’re trying to get done. Believe me. I know. It’s also hard to stop having fun even when your body is protesting. But it’s not as if you get to trade your body in for a newer model if you wear it out. Aside from the possibility of a few replacement parts, this carcass, flawed as it may be, is pretty much it for you. So it’s important to take care of it.

The day I wrote this, I had been mowing the lawn in the hot sun. It was the only opportunity I would have to do it this week, and I really didn’t want my neighbors to give me the stink eye due to my neglect. That, and the lawn does look better when it’s properly maintained. So mow I did.

But I had to keep taking breaks. I was sweating profusely. My heart was pounding. I was getting dizzy. More and more, I had to stop, sit in the shade, drink some iced tea, and lie flat until my heart slowed down a bit. Then I’d mow some more, and sure enough, it would happen again. I’m neither as young nor as thin as I used to be.

At one point I thought I was going to pass out or vomit. Back to the shade. As I lay there, I thought, “You know, I could die. All alone in my yard.” That would suck. I have plans. I’m working toward a future, here!

Suddenly I realized that the lawn was not worth dying for. Common sense, you’d think. But it was actually an epiphany for me. So, the front lawn looks great, but the back yard is choked with dandelions and clover. But, hey, I’m alive. And the bees are thrilled.

Afterward I took a cool bath, and then a nap, and felt much better for it. I bet my body is astounded that it took me so long to wise up. I suspect it feels like that quite often.

I need to become a better self-listener. I’m not going to win some prize for pushing myself too far. There are no medals for abusing one’s health. I don’t know about you, but I want to live to mow another day.

Bee and Dandelion

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