was mowing the lawn last week.
scene doesn’t spark much, does it? Interest… imagination… you
get the idea of the spark that’s missing. There isn’t too much
in a lawn mowing, stated simply such as I did, that veers off
the path of a normal Saturday afternoon. So, let’s add a bit…
was well after 3pm. Thanks to that lovely fall-back event a few
weeks ago, we were roughly an hour from complete darkness. Anyone
that lives in the northeast can tell you about the arrival of
the night during the winter run that follows the end of daylight
savings. There is no lingering twilight. There is no gradual fade.
It looks, feels, sounds… yes, it feels and sounds
like someone dropping a can of paint. A chilling thud with gloomy
darkness enveloping everything. A real mess.
mess isn’t quite right. Some winter evenings are pretty sweet.
(Though if you want a “thud” tossed in there, consider walking
around the house between 4 and 5pm, having not turned any lights
on. You’ll hit a wall or a chair every so often. Thud indeed.)
neighbor was out there, pushing his mower, in the final threads
of light, with a storm on the way.
adding an approaching storm and diminishing visibility, maybe
now we’ve moved off the path of normality. Let’s continue…
was walking around the house, more or less taking care of quick
chores. Towels from the washer to the dryer… moving a bowl from
the sink to the dishwasher… thinking about vacuuming (and talking
myself out of it)… you know, things that needed to get done but
nothing requiring amazing time or focus. And then I heard a lawn
a Saturday afternoon in August, a lawn mower isn’t going to catch
your attention. At least not to any high degree. It’s a routine
kind of thing, where even late on a summer afternoon you hear
the sound and it matches the rest of the atmosphere. When it is
heard and registers, you can quickly figure out who is outside
working in the yard. One neighbor uses a ride on mower… another
mows in the morning… little suburbia events that connect with
clues of familiarity.
this was November. The forecast was calling for snow starting
around 5 and offering a possibility of a few inches of snow overnight.
Darkness was arriving and light was scarce. Still… I heard a mower.
stepped out onto the deck and looked off in the distance. There,
in a shadowy winter-like dusk, was our neighbor. With his lawn
mower. Wearing a heavy coat that extended down to mid-thigh, winter
gloves, and a knit hat with one of those balls of yarn on top.
haven’t had a chance to see him in person to find out what was
going on. He might have been making a rushed effort at attacking
some leaves, but there was no bagger on his mower that I could
see. With snow on the way though, that seems the most likely of
I do know is this: We have had a crazy run of strange around here
lately, especially in the northeast.
day before I spotted Paul, I was out with a rake and our ride
on mower. It was part of an attempt to clear out the drainage
ditches and attack what I could of the yard. And I had to do it
then, in part because of the snow that at the time of my efforts
was still a day away. If it wasn’t for that expectation over the
weekend, I wouldn’t have been out on that particular Friday.
the beginning of October, it has been a swirling mix of rainy,
cold, damp, wet, sloppy and everything in between. Didn’t rain
each and every day, but the wetness just lingered, and the ground
was soft, and there was no way to walk across the yard without
making a mess (never mind pushing a mower across it). But once
the snow packs down those leaves… that’s it… game over.
parents were reporting something similar around them. Not quite
the same expectations of accumulation, but the leaves dropped
late this year… and the weather wasn’t helping in giving a day
that worked for raking them… and yuck.
of which leads to my spotting Paul, effectively mowing the snow.
Every year is a bit different when the snow arrives though.
you ever considered how the temperature changes the snow you get?
Light and fluffy and mind-numbing-frigid… heavy and wet and hovering
around freezing… stuff like that. Similar thing can be said for
the process of clearing the snow and the temperatures in the days
around the job. Keep it around 32-degrees and the ground is sloppy,
muddy, and a pain to work in. Single-digit storms and the ground
is usually solid, which is not too bad for moving along.
you have a driveway that involves moving a snowblower partly on
some grass or dirt… well… you have a mixed blessing and headache.
Unit doesn’t move well in the mud, but the fluffier snow just
disappears in the wind (usually to settle by covering the portions
of the driveway you already cleared).
so often I find myself with a bit of a twist when it comes to
mowing the snow. Do you have oil heat? Ever mistimed it so the
walk to the pipe for the tank isn’t free of snow and you need
to make some type of path? More than once (though fortunately
not often), I’ve found myself navigating the journey from driveway
to oil tank, across the front lawn and around the side of the
house, with my snowblower leading the way.
isn’t much that will make you feel stranger than using a snowblower
across the grass. Then again, mowing the snow just might. (Or…
spotting a neighbor, gloves on with a heavy coat, pushing a mower
in the dark, minutes before the first flakes begin falling.)