"Mow the lawn," are words that I have been hearing most of my life. Usually starting in early spring and going right on to the fall.
They have been said by a father, a mother, a wife, (who said "Please"). A mother-in-law, and neighbors have hinted at it, too.
It is not that I might feel lazy about getting out the old mower and pushing it over the tall weeds and dandelions, but there are times when more important things come up to fill your day . . . Like reading a book or watching a ball game or almost anything.
A lawn story told about Toots Shor was the time he and his wife decided to get out of the city and move to a house with grass around it.
They had their first big party and a few musicians showed up to entertain.
In the morning Toots was wandering around his new lawn and spotted what he thought was a clarinet.He reached down to pick it up and it was a black snake.
Toots gave up lawns and suburban living, moved back to the city and was satisfied forever with the grass in Central Park.
When our children were toddlers we moved from an apartment in the city to a converted barn in the middle of a large country field.
About half way through the summer, the grass would be very high and the children would wander through it and it would be hard to find them.
Then the request from my wife was, "Please mow the field."
That mower I had to borrow for this chore was a giant thing called a " Yazzoo."
It had motorcycle handlebars, bicycle tires and a blade almost the size of an airplane propeller.
In the housing that covered the blade there was an opening and everything I cut or ran into would shoot out the hole and from time to time it would send a rock out at bullet-like speed.
It was a gas burner, and for this twice-a-summer chore I had to buy a gallon of gasoline.
One day I set the gallon jug on a stone wall and got the monster started and it began to pull me around the field, roaring away.
Halfway through the job it ran out of gas and I went to get my jug for a refill. It was lying on the ground shattered by a rock flung from the monster. So the day's work was over when this thing killed the source of energy.
The mowing habits of my neighbors vary. A Japanese man who lived across the street from me a while would start out at 7 every Sunday morning and while mowing he would sing arias from popular operas at the top of his lungs.
I never spoke to him for as long as he lived there.
A friend and neighbor who was a retired Army colonel used part of his retirement to mow his lawn and he had it looking like a West Point Cadet's haircut.
My lawn troubled him because the place he sat each night to drink his beer was on his side-porch facing my house.
At the time I was working a night shift and slept mornings. I woke up one morning to hear a mower sounding very close to my house.
Leaning out the window I say my friend grinding away at my grass.
I yelled to him and he cut the motor and I asked, "Can't you come back and do that a little later?"
He did, and we remained close friends for years.
Having your lawn taken care of can also run into money as it did for me one summer day.
A daughter home from college decided to help out.
She hitched up my mower, and barefoot like most college kids home for the summer, she began to mow. Susie did a good job, but somewhere along the route she bothered a hornet and it stung her on the foot. A few hours later the foot had swollen to the size of a softball.
They took care of it at Sibley Hospital. At the time she was off my medical plan so it cost me $35 to have the lawn mowed.
Then there's Memorial Day, which always reminds me of when we were enterprising kids and wouldn't cut our own grass at home.
Instead we would take a sickle and a watering can and go to a local cemetery and when people came to visit the graves we would say, "graves watered, grass cut," and feeling guilty they would slip us a quarter to trim it up.
The mowers use the weekends to cut, snip and trim.
There is one homeowner I like to watch who has a steep sloped lawn and has a rope tied to his mower to pull it up and down.
The person down behind me somewhere who uses a B-29 engine to run his mower will be out there grinding away.
They never all go out at the same time. It seems, by some mower's code of ethics, that they wait for one to stop before another starts his up.
For me, I might just get a cold beer and read a little Sandburg, who amony many other lovely words wrote,
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work -
am the grass; I cover all.
And wait for my neighbor to get so disgusted he cuts my lawn too.