Ah…another hot and humid day in Baltimore….And my grass is creeping ever higher, looking a tad shabby and rough about the edges, calling to me to come and give it a trim. The rains of the last week have refreshed it to a lush, frothy green, and it seems that overnight the blades of fescue, zoysia, clover and other odd species of grass that hide in my yard have sprouted several inches. It’s time to break out the push mower and the weed-wacker.
My neighbors think me a bit mad tackling my yard with only an old-fashioned reel mower, powered by my own legs and arms, but there is a kind of zen meditation that accompanies a good round of push mowing. Crazy as it sounds, I like to roll the blades across the lawn and see the small snippets of grass clip off, collecting in happy little piles behind me as I move across the space. The sound of the turning blades are like a conversation, peaceful, as they Swoosh, Swoosh, Whirrrr along. They are nothing like my neighbor’s loud and smelly gas-powered rig which he likes to crank up early on Saturday mornings wearing gigantic earphones to protect his hearing. I opt for a cool, quiet and sweat-intensive relationship with my grass.
Up and down the front the yard, trying hard to work in a linear pattern but often succumbing to something more random, often wavy or even circular, I plow steadily through the waxy blades and give them a satisfying trim. Often I must go over a spot several times to get it right; the blades can be quite stubborn and unyielding to the mower. They have their own relationship to negotiate.
It feels good as my forearms and shoulders begin to ache a wee bit. It feels good to smell the cut grass, listen to the cicadas sing and see the patterns my walking and cutting create in the front and back yards. It is akin to a meditation, a labyrinth walk where I can focus solely on my feet, the reel mower, the steady, rhythmic movements of my body though the thick morning air. It places me in the NOW but also allows my mind to empty into a comforting silence, a silence that can be filled with drifting clouds of thought, or not.
I address the grass. I prepare my tools. I slather on sunscreen, put on my old yard shoes and tattered jeans and gear up for several hours of sweaty meditation. For me the joy is in the fact that I can immediately see the fruit of my labor, the swaths I have cut in the yard, the impact I have had on my external world through physical effort and this makes me happy in a way that a gas lawn mower cannot. It is time spent with the lawn, the crazy dandelions and bamboo shoots that litter the property, and a chance to get covered in sweet-smelling bits of juicy green grass. For me, very zen, very satisfying…and today, very needed.