It’s that time again. Time to mow the grass. I suppose it’s on my mind even more so this year because I am overseeing the care of three yards for a while. I am thankful for the folks helping me in this for sure. And no, it’s not these guys. Thank goodness.
As I watch the grass turning green and hear the buzz of the mowers, I am carried back to when I was much younger and our yard at Blackberry Flats, where I grew up. When we first moved out there, I was nine. All we had at the time was a push mower. On some Saturday mornings, I was offered the choice of doing my usual chores, which included dusting, or heading outside to help with the yard. Suffice to say, I despise dusting. So out I went. Once the sun had burned off the dew. Daddy had two major rules in mowing–no mowing on Sunday mornings and no mowing wet grass.
Eventually we were fortunate enough to have a hand-me-down riding mower. Seems like I remember it having a handle-bar like steering mechanism instead of a steering wheel. I don’t remember too much about that one, because I don’t think I got to drive it much, if at all. My job was to do the trimming with the push mower. I remember one time when I was assigned the trimming, and in stereotypical teenage fashion, I had gotten slack. Daddy, of course, noticed this and called me to task.
“You doing your best out there?” he asked, when I came in for a glass of water.
“Yessir,” I said.
“Good,” he replied.
I went back out and “finished” up. When I went to tell him I was done, he said, “Are you sure?”
“Okay, if I go out there and find some that you didn’t do, I’m going to give you a pair of scissors to finish trimming with. Are you still sure?”
I shrugged. I knew I hadn’t done it perfectly, but I figured he really wouldn’t check that closely.
He found it. The patch of grass around the birdbath. Yep, I had been sloppy, and I could only look at the ground as he pointed it out. He handed me a pair of scissors. About a half hour and several blisters later, I finally had it trimmed beautifully, the way I should have to begin with. I never did that again, I tell you what.
Then I graduated to mowing with the riding mower. Only by this time, I think we had one with a real steering wheel. The deal was I could mow with it, as long as I helped with the trimming. I loved it. This was before I had my license, so I had all kinds of fun with that mower and my imagination. Until…..
Well, let’s just say there were once three cedar trees in the side yard. Instead of two. They were newly transplanted little babies then. Where everyone parks in the side yard? Yeah, there. And to all who have parked there, you’re welcome. I didn’t meant to run over it one too many times, but there you go.
And the rose bush in the front yard. I’m sorry, it was like a magnet. I love trees and plants, I really do. It’s just me and that power mower–we’re a bit dangerous together. And in my defense, I think I was in reverse each time, so it’s not like it was an intentional act. (I was probably trying to trim with the riding mower, so I wouldn’t have to get that push mower back out.)
Mowing and the aftermath has given us some great stories. The stuff legends are made of. Like the time that Aub and I were living there, and I was out in the yard with Mama raking up the thick clippings. (No bag on that mower.) It was like hay out there, so we were raking it up and putting it around some of the trees in the yard. (Yes, the ones that survived the lawn mower massacre. Ahem.) Daddy had gone in for a while, and it was an early summer evening. Aub, about four years old, started pointing at the tall Leyland Cypress I had given Daddy one year for Father’s Day. Her eyes were big as saucers.
“What? What is it?” I asked.
She pointed again. “A snake. In that tree.”
I turned around quickly, and sure enough, looking almost like a misplaced branch, was an extremely long, healthy-looking black snake poking his head out from all that green.
I froze. “Go. Get. Cap.” She didn’t need to be told twice. She took off for the house.
Daddy came out, and he took the rake from me and used it to try to get the snake out of the tree. He was going to carry him out to the “high grass,” our old horse pasture in the back. Unfortunately the snake had different ideas. He kept going around and around on the branches of the tree. Daddy followed him around, pulling back branches, trying to reach him. And then, all of a sudden, that big ol’ black snake shot out of the tree from a height of at least seven feet. Oh. My. Land.
Mama let out a startled squeal. I probably did too, but the snake never noticed me. He ran straight for Mama. Who ran too. There they were, Mama and the snake, running for all they were worth. Mama was convinced he was after her, and he was probably convinced we were after him. She finally went off to one side and he kept on going, headin’ for the hills. (Or the high grass as the case may be.) Auburn told Mama in amazement that she had never seen her run so fast. To this day, all one of us has to do is say, “Hey, remember the time that snake chased Mama…..” We always get in trouble, because we can’t help but giggle. Mama assured us it was not the leastbitfunny.
The smell of cut grass is a memory trigger for me. To this day, it takes me back to those days at Blackberry Flats, and I’m never quite sure why. But I love it. I miss those lazy Saturdays when I was everything but lazy, mowing and trimming, and apologizing for whatever I’d run over. I miss the smell of sun-dried sheets and supper cooking, and the taste of ice cold water from the well. The sweet relief of the first evening breeze just as the sun starts to sink below the horizon. And the sound of Mama’s voice, calling out to remind us, “Brush all that grass off of you before you come in that back door. I just cleaned these floors.”
Ah, the precious sweetness of summer memories and the longing for days gone by.