That right there is a brand new box

 

Went out and bought a new lawn mower a few weeks ago.

Push mower.

Around our house we have some places that donít work for riding mowers or trimmers. Places like drainage ditches along the roadside. Places in between low garden fences and taller real fences, between real fences and sheds.

Iíve had our current old push mower for years.

Actually, scratch that. As I think about it, that mower has been around for more than simply years. Decades. (And if not decades plural, then closing in on twenty years by being at fifteen years or more and worthy of the plural status.)

And that mower is beat to all holy heck.

In the two homes we lived in prior to this one, we really never had much of a lawn. We had lifts and drops. Stones and rocks and sand. Shrubs and brush and weeds. Not as much grass as we would like. (And that is not a result of lacking hard work or effort. Grass seed. Attentive watering. Plenty of research and thought into providing the best environment for grass to grow. No grass.)

Do you know what happens when you have a piece of equipment, designed for dirty work, and you know as you start it that the work is going to be rough and dusty and so on? Well, in one funny aspect, you end up not being as concerned about banging it around as you might otherwise. You expect to put that piece of equipment into tough situations.

One time, I hit a rock and broke the mounting adaptor for the blade. (I donít know the specific terms or parts involved, but if you know about things like shear pins/bolts you get the ideaÖ the way a blade is attached often includes a part designed to break if there is a significant impact. That creates minor damage instead of major disasters.) Many times Iíve struck blades along the ground, often found blades bent and dinged, and have had the mower come to a complete stop because of things Iíve tried.

And still the mower continued to run.

Last year though, we began to see the final stages of use. The handle broke. More precisely, the handle snapped. About an inch above the very bottom area where it attaches to the mower deck. I fixed it with a couple of metal rods I had from other projects and a good amount of duct tape. Got it through the rest of the season and into this year.

But all winter long I realized that a new mower was likely in order. Sure, I could probably try to find a new handle that would work, but after the punishment I had put that thing through, well, chances were good a new one was the mush wiser option. Especially since I already knew where it would be getting its use, and I was absolutely going to be looking at the lower end of the cost scale.

And soÖ back to where we beganÖ a few weeks ago, Terry and I happened to be out, saw a mower on sale, and decided to pick it up.

The trick is, I couldnít bring myself to open the box once I got it home.

Eventually, I had to open it. I needed to make sure the darn thing ran before all of the initial purchase return options expired. So, I did. ButÖ

I keep using the old one. I keep telling myself ďthis is the last roundupĒ every time I fill it with gas and head out of the garage. I keep saying the new one runs better and has a slightly larger blade and all sorts of things that should bring me to a simple endÖ use the old one until the gas tank is empty, clean it up a bit, and then put it away to store as an emergency backup. It does run. It can be used. But it is so far beyond gone you would never give it to someone else. And thenÖ

It goes out and does its job.

And the new one is new, while the old one is already dirty and scratched and thrashed.

So, the box sat in the middle of the garage. And even now, after unpacking it, setting it up, and using it, I find myself time after time tempted to bring out the older mower. Honestly, itís almost like watching the mowerís seventeenth farewell tour at this point. You knowÖ the band will never reach the heights and power of the glory days, but itís always nice to hear the hits.

Fact is, I usually have a few boxes around the house. Items picked up because weíll need them sooner or later, and we bumped into a sale we didnít expect or found ourselves in a store we donít frequently visit, and it made sense to pick it up at that time and place. In the end, what we keep ending up with is boxes to stack in the closet, garage and basement.

Mind you, this isnít some episode of a television show where we have massive problems. Weíre talking about perhaps some blankets and towels, a frying pan and colander, a sprinkler and duct tape, and, yes, a lawn mower along with other assorted items. We do not have five televisions, two washing machines and a refrigerator waiting in the wings to be pressed into service.

How many of you have clothes youíve never worn? I mean tags still on them, perhaps still in the bag from the store, clothes youíve never worn. Or even just a new pair of sneakers, sitting in the corner while day after day we grab the old ones to put on. Iím guessing most of us do, even if itís a pair of socks or a shirt we dropped into the closet and forgot to put away.

A few years ago, we needed a new washing machine. When I was a kid there were pretty standard and basic settings on the washer. Hot and cold water, regular and delicate cycles, and maybeÖ just maybeÖ something for the size of the load you intended to wash. When delivering our latest, the guys from the store were telling me how I could download an app to my phone for the new unit. (They stopped when I told them I didnít own a smartphone.) We did however, have a nice conversation about how the average lifespan of new washers and dryers was about five years, since technology was ever changing.

Five years? Just five years? My grandmother used the same clothesline in her yard for more than five years, and it was outside year-round (including the winter months). No issues with that. The line was fine. And she even had it on one of those pulley-style wheels so she could load and unload the line without ever having to move from her back door. I guarantee you that her generation would never have bought a stove, fridge, washer or dryer that was going to need replacing before they ran out of fingers to count on their first hand.

This is a celebration of the things we think we need but canít bring ourselves to use. The times we recognize opportunity and necessity but canít walk away from reliable and comfortable. This is a nod in the direction of the new box. The unopened box. And this is a round of applause for the still going, even though the warranty expired.

In the next day or two, it will be time to mow the lawn. I keep telling myself that Iíll be using the new push mower as part of the work. But I canít help wondering if the old mower still has some gas in it. Maybe I should check, and, you know, just use that one to get things started until the tank is empty.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com