Jul 7 2016
The riding lawnmower and I do NOT get along.
Whenever I’m paired with it, something gets broken, knocked loose, bent or shredded. This problematic relationship dates back years ago, to its maiden voyage with me: I mowed over a metal jump cup and bent the blade.
Since then, the casualties have been less costly — tennis balls, kids’ toys, ornamental plants and a few garden hoses. Still, Martin never asks me to cut the grass.
And he’s mystified by my inability to start the mower, despite several tutorials. I guess he figures that ineptitude hobbles my usage.
(And starting it is one reason why I hate the thing. In my defense, the icons are inane. The choke symbol — two hash marks and a diagonal line? It’s meaningless. Equally baffling is the tortoise and hare symbol for the throttle. I never know which lever should be where, and typically the engine fires but doesn’t catch.)
But on Monday, I had a stroke of luck. Martin was bush-hogging with the tractor, creeping along and stopping frequently to scrape seed heads from the radiator or to clear his lungs of the carbon monoxide, billowing from the broken exhaust.
I felt sorry for him, so I shoved the key into the mower’s ignition, toggled the levers this way and that and — for once — the thing growled to life. Success!
I commenced mowing, tracing the fence line, so Martin could witness my good deed. He was nearly done bush-hogging and soon could chill out.
I made one more pass then took a path around the boxwoods. Almost immediately, the engine shrieked and ground to a stop with a violent shudder. I sat on the silent machine as a plume reeking of burnt rubber rose around me. In the distance, the tractor was still chugging along.
I hiked into the field and flagged Martin down.
“So there I was, minding my own business, cutting the grass when suddenly, the hose by the magnolia tree flung itself in front of the mower!” I said, waving my arms for emphasis.
“Another hose?” he asked before surveying the crime scene. “Jesus, Jo! You got the hammock in there, too?”
It’s true, both yard items teamed up in this brutal attack.
After that, Martin didn’t say much. He rolled around on the ground, stuck his arm beneath the mower, grumbled a lot and finally freed the blades from the tangle of rubber and rope.
Promising to be more careful, I took off cutting grass before he could say much else.
I was on high-alert for toys near the jungle gym, and that’s why it took a minute to realize that the mower was rearing up on its hind wheels. Perplexed, I pushed the steering levers forward and the mower really popped a wheelie. So I quickly yanked it backwards and it came down, hitting the ground with a bang.
Somehow, I’d snagged the mowing deck on the two-seater swing on the jungle gym.
I quickly glanced around to make sure that Martin was on the tractor, out of sight.
He was standing right behind me, mouth agape.
What could I do?
I peeled out there, taking refuge behind the boxwoods.
I still hate that damn mower, but at least it moves fast.