Between the Lines: When a man’s fancy turns to lawn mowing
Is it just me, or can springtime seem a little overwhelming?
I get the part about how green and warm and wonderful it is. I’m reveling in it.
Even my cat is juiced about spring.
When I wouldn’t let him out one recent morning, he launched himself from an open second-story window and landed on the stone patio, 15 feet below. I found him down there, no worse the wear for his Superman imitation, licking his paws and purring.
We all feel the stirrings of the season. In spring, as Tennyson put it, “A young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
For that matter, in spring this older man’s fancy also turns to thoughts of love.
But amid the splendor in the grass, it seems like there’s hardly a moment to enjoy it. We are called both by new duties and new opportunities for fun.
At the present moment, for example, I am trying to decide among mowing the lawn, taking up golf yet again, buying a new pair of fishing waders (an item which, as careful readers will note, is still on hold from the last column), planting landscaping, putting in a vegetable garden, and taking out the buckthorn trees that are obscuring the view of oaks and birches.
Just writing that list makes me feel like giving up and taking a nap.
There are, of course, small pleasures to be found in each of these activities. And someday before the hot weather hits, I hope to find a moment to enjoy them.
For now, though, I’m anticipating a month of yard work, in what songwriter John McCutcheon called “the season’s battle with the weather and the weed.”
One surprise has been to discover how much I enjoy using an old-fashioned reel mower — the kind you push with no assist from a motor, and no noise or gas fumes.
I went to Aubuchon last week to explore what they had in the way of reel mowers. I wanted a greener alternative to a motorized noise machine.
But I hated using a push mower when I was a boy. That boyhood lawn was huge, the grass the thickness of a rain forest, and I would much rather have been playing baseball.
I figured I’d end up instead with a Neuton electric mower bought from the DR Factory Store in Vergennes.
But Diane, the Aubuchon store manager who knows everything there is to know about anything hardware, pointed out to me that I had three choices in a reel mower. And that these mowers were greatly improved since I was 12 and breaking down in tears at the frustration of trying to mow through the Amazon, with blades that hadn’t been sharpened since my father was a boy.
It turns out that Fiskars — which I thought specialized in orange scissors — also makes an orange reel mower. And while the Fiskars is easily the ugliest mower on the planet, its funky design appealed to me.
I’ve mown the lawn once already, and so far, no tears.
Inside the house, too, there’s too much to be done.
The place may soon be overrun by insect life. The wasps, spiders and carpenter ants are making regular assaults on the interior, and it’s not even black fly season yet.
My closets and dressers are still full of fleece vests and long underwear. I seem to recall that somewhere upstairs, I stored a summer’s worth of T-shirts and shorts. But I’ll be damned if I can find them, packed in there deep in the eaves behind the snowboard and ice skates.
Darkness, when it finally does arrive around 9 p.m., brings no rest for the weary. At least not for the weary sports fan.
I’m not one to obsess over NBA basketball or NHL hockey during the regular season. But even a casual fan finds it hard to turn away from the intensity of the playoffs.
It’s that time of year when pro hockey players stop fighting and actually play the game. And when pro basketball players amp it up enough to engage in the occasional shoving matches.
This is undoubtedly the best time of year to be a casual fan — from NCAA March Madness through the Masters and the Stanley Cup, all the way up to the NBA Finals. Which, if memory serves, end sometime around Labor Day.
I find myself tuning in to watch sports for an hour or so every evening. But sometimes it gets a little confusing.
I can’t remember, for example, if we’re waiting for Derrick Rose to come back from a knee injury incurred while going up for a rebound, or to recover from a concussion he got when he was slammed into the boards behind the net.
And did Sidney Crosby break his jaw when he got hit by a puck, or was he going up for a dunk and hit the rim?
If you know the answer, please email me. In the meantime, I just noticed that the grass has grown to a height where I can no longer see out the windows.
I’ll be outside mowing the lawn.
Gregory Dennis’s column appears here every other Thursday and is archived on his blog at www.gregdennis.wordpress.com. Email him at G[email protected], or find him on Twitter: @greengregdennis.
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