July 26, 2012
My name is Frank, and I'm a staff writer at Gwinnett Daily Post. My wife and I recently bought our first home, a 1,400 square-foot, four-sided brick house with a half-acre backyard. This blog is about our new place.
Sweat stings your eyes. Sun scorches the back of your neck. A six-horsepower engine sputters and sings, belching smoke as you plod your way through sedge, clover and crabgrass.
For most folks, mowing the lawn is a miserable affair. It's hard work, and you're out there with the kudzu bugs and mosquitos on the hottest days of the year. And to make matters worse, once you cut grass, it grows back…fast.
But there's something to be said for trimming back the weeds on a sweltering July afternoon. Much like a brisk jog or afternoon walk, it can be mentally purging. You just have to know how to embrace the whole thing.
For starters, you've got to suit up right. Steering a lawn mower through the yard means sporting the most ancient, unspeakable T-shirt you own. A garment on the verge of dishrag status.
Note the massive hole in the underarm and faded, yellow logo. In its heyday (about seven years ago) this shirt was worn with pride, a testament to my trip to Sun Studios in Memphis.
Now, it's a loose network of cotton fibers hanging on for dear life.
You'll also want some tattered sneakers, those Nikes from 2003, the ASICS with a hole in the sole. Myself, I sport a pair of black crocs that are, by all appearances, immortal.
To complete your excursion into the outdoors, you'll want a fashionable fragrance. Might I suggest an aromatic misting of DEET?
Last but not least, you'll want music. There's nothing like cutting grass to a soundtrack. I would recommend something that gets you pumped up. Whatever it takes: Speed metal, gangster rap, Carly Rae Jepsen.
Plug in those headphones, pour in the gasoline, push the primer bulb three times and let her rip.
Get lost in the process. For once in your busy, breakneck-pace week, focus on one thing and one thing only: cutting the grass.
A columnist and friend of mine, Jim Chapman, once referred to this state of sweaty nirvana as "tractor therapy."
Once you get into the groove, your worries and fears fade, the rest of the world seems to melt away (it's 102 degrees).
Which brings me to the next point. Time of day is everything. It's the difference between a mild beating and medieval torture. I've often heard the low hum of the lawnmower in a neighbor's yard at 2 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday. Must be fun.
I like to aim for about 7 p.m. at the earliest. Just enough time to knock it out before it gets dark. Night mowing isn't easy, so plan accordingly.
Once you're finished, sit back, grab a cold drink and rest, relishing your victory, breathing in the scent of the freshly-trimmed lawn. It's a vigorous baptism by sweat, grass blades and bug bites, and you get to do it all again next week.
Comments or questions? e-mail me at email@example.com