Monday, May 23, 2011

Girl vs. Lawn

                When my little brother was about three years old, he had a toy lawnmower. It was green, yellow, and black, and it was the coolest thing ever. Even I, an outspoken, self-righteous, bossy seven-year-old, had to admit I was a little bit jealous. I mean, the thing blew bubbles out the top when you pushed it across the lawn! It was even cooler than this picture of a bubble lawnmower, because the colors were WAY more macho and it actually blew real bubbles!
                Unfortunately, several years ago, my experience with lawnmowers took a dark turn for the worse. I found myself faced with a daunting task – mowing (gasp!) a real lawn. I’ve mowed many lawns since, but my most recent lawnmowing excursion was on Friday. At every turn, I felt the grass fighting back against the vicious, hungry blades of the awkward contraption in my grip. And it was my job to tame the unruly monster of an overgrown lawn into submission.
                Round 1:  Optimism
                Today, the lawn; tomorrow, the world! This is my battle cry as I head outside to cut the grass for the first time this year. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the grass is long. Extremely long. Knee-high long. So long that my backyard looks like a small, overgrown forest. I’m a little surprised my family let it get this bad while I was away at college, but I’m not discouraged. I can handle this.
                I hook the bag to the back of the lawnmower, pull the cord, and it runs beautifully. Life is good!
Girl:  1     Lawn:  0
                Round 2:  Bagging
                My optimism doesn’t last long. After about three rows, the mower starts spitting out nasty chunks of wet, sticky grass. Everywhere. It’s stuck to my shoes, and now when I try to shove the contraption forward, its confident hum fades to a pathetic little whimper. It’s time to investigate.
                I stop mowing and wheel over to the patio, where I proceed to remove the black collection bag. Grass pours out onto the concrete, and I groan. A humongous clump of wet grass is blocking the bag, and when I get it out of the way, I find the bag to be completely empty. Except for that one monstrous, irritating clump. I toss it into a paper yard waste bag (I found this very technical term online, of course) and hook the collection bag back onto the mower. If the first run is any indication, this is going to take a very long time.
Girl:  1     Lawn:  1
                Round 3:  Mud
                The mower keeps clogging with thick clods of grass, but I try to remain positive. It could be a lot worse, I tell myself. I could be mowing through poison ivy! Or, since I don’t really react to poison ivy, I could be mowing through cat hair! I’d have hives all up and down my shins! No, emptying the bag every other row is much better than that.
                Then I hit the mud. It rained yesterday, the day before that, and pretty much every other day this month, or so I’m told. I hadn’t seen any evidence of all that rainfall until now. And this evidence is now coating the lawnmower’s wheels in a thick, sticky, brown layer. Gross.
                Little rivers of muddy water are flowing across my path, and try as I might, I just can’t seem to get the contraption through them. Its wheels get stuck too easily, and the blade flicks little specks of mud onto my ankles. I give up and pull the mower back.
Girl:  1     Lawn:  2
                Round 4:  Tree
                Nursing my mud-inflicted wounds, I press onward toward a cool, shady spot on our lawn.  Normally, I would welcome the relief from the sun, but the source of this particular shade is a tree with very low-hanging branches.
                Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to this roadblock. After emptying the collection bag for what I think must be at least the thirtieth time, I duck and push the mower under the branches, which brush my back as I stand up. Problem solved. I’m back in the game.
Girl:  2     Lawn:  2
                Round 5:  Anthill
                I’m on the home stretch. The score is tied, and I’m getting anxious. Will there be another challenge to face so I can return victorious? I don’t have to wait long to find out.
                In the last little patch of grass is an enormous anthill. I’ve seen this anthill before, and I’ve always loathed it. Once, when I was thirteen, I mowed over it, oblivious to my fate. As my flip-flop fell next to the hill, an army of tiny invaders swarmed my foot. I stood my ground, calmly brushing off the ants as I finished the section of grass I was mowing.
                Okay, that was a lie. I’m a girl. I shrieked. And flailed. Let’s not go into detail with that.
                This time, I refuse to fail. I must win! I am the lawn’s intellectual, physical, and emotional superior, and I will not lose! I grit my teeth and plow forward, glad I’m wearing closed toe shoes.
                As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. The remaining rainwater must be keeping the ants busy with matters underground, because there are no little six-legged warriors leaping from the soggy mound to defend their home. I finish up the lawn, empty the bag for the last time, and head inside. I’ve won!
Final score:  Girl:  3     Lawn:  2
                Oh, the sweet, sweet smell of victory. It’s strangely similar to that of freshly cut grass…

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