This past weekend I engaged in an activity I have not done on a regular bases since I was in my early 20s. I got to mow the lawn.
If you can picture it in your head – my parent’s front lawn is full and thick with grass. So thick in fact that when mowing every 10 days there are always leftover grass cuttings that do not evaporate into the wind like the our neighbors’ do. We must grass of the ‘devoted’ planted, the variety that sticks around even after it gets cut. The front lawn also has a nice flower and bush bed in the front of the house that helps hide the foundation. I can’t describe it for I have never seen the mythical foundation of our house but I know it’s there…Somewhere.
The rear lawn can be found by entering a leaning wooden gate set between the split rail fence and the wall. Unlike the front, the rear lawn is rather bumpy. Here we find the pine cones, the strange mushy fruit that seems perpetually rotten, the odd lack of grass around the two trees. In the backyard there is also a working garden- I say working because it is beautiful and a testament to the hard work of the gardener who cares for it. Garden utensils like hoses, hose guides and diggers are found scattered around. This garden is for beauty and for play.
The rear lawn despite not being of the same thickness nor fullness is more welcoming than the front. This is clear from the animal visitors that think of the lawn as their local cafe. The bird bath is open to birds and inclusive of squirrels. The neighborhood cat roamers also pay a visit and leave many ‘gifts’ that assail the nostrils.
So it was this lawn I was mowing, the front: an easy ride and the back more of a challenge. I finished the front in a breeze. A strong breeze that blew all the cuttings in my face. I rather prefer the scent of freshly cut grass in my face than the freshly pooped crap I got in the backyard, as I rolled right over the unavoidable hidden cat poop deposited liberally in the rear yard.
There is zen in mowing the lawn. To the uninitiated, the complex odors of pine, grass, poop, compost, flowers and gasoline might be a deterrent to engaging in this fall activity. Yet to me, there is zen in bumping around the lawn with the roar or the engine and the whirr of the blades as my companions.
Zen. The way the grass looks different when still or windswept. The patterns of the blades cutting the grass. The colors of the leaves in the trees and on the ground. The different sizes and textures of the cuttings blowing back to mess in my hair and in my clothes – giving me a ‘wild mower man’ look. Zen in the respite from offensive political rhetoric and gospels full of hate.
Zen mower moments breeze to mowing thoughts. Fall mowing thoughts that color my eye and assail my senses, heralding tomorrow’s tasks.