Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Mowing The Lawn: What A Drag

I bought myself a new toy a few weeks ago…an electric lawnmower.

Up until my purchase, I’d been using an old-fashioned push-mower, which was about one step above cutting the grass with a sickle. Anything thicker than a blade of grass (such as a dandelion) required me to mow over it 30 or 40 times before the mower either finally cut it, or it became so flattened out, it didn’t have the strength to pop up again. Sometimes I got so fed up, I just bent over and yanked out all of the stubborn stuff by hand.

So last month, I finally decided to move out of the Stone Age and climb the next step on the ladder of lawnmower evolution. That step was an electric lawnmower. I figured that going from and old push-mower directly to a modern gas-powered mower would be such a drastic change for me, I’d probably end up accidentally de-whiskering the neighbor’s cat with it. So an electric mower seemed as if it would be easier to control.

The clerk at the store showed me a nice lightweight model. His sales pitch piqued my interest when he said I wouldn’t have to worry about gas, oil or spark plugs, the way I’d have to with a gas-powered mower. But when he demonstrated that all I’d have to do was plug in the mower and press a little bar on the handle to make it work, I was sold. Too often, I had seen my neighbors, red-faced and heavily perspiring, double over from hernia-induced pain after they’d yanked the pull-cords on their mowers three or four hundred times without succeeding in getting them started.

I bought the mower and a 100-foot extension cord, and then headed home to mow my lawn.

I loved the mower. It sliced through even the toughest weeds as easily as a hot knife through butter. It also sliced through part of the extension cord.

From the moment I tried my new mower, I developed an instant hatred for the extension cord. For one thing, 100 feet of thick, outdoor-type cord, felt as if it weighed about the same as a ship’s anchor. To keep the cord away from the mower, I tried slinging it over my shoulder, but it was so heavy, it made my knees buckle. So I had no choice other than to let it drag behind me.

Believe me, dragging a 100-foot cord behind you has its hazards. For one thing, the cord slides through every disgusting thing that’s in the yard or in the vicinity of the yard; from mud to doggy souvenirs and poison ivy. And when you turn around to mow in the opposite direction, the cord suddenly crosses in front of your ankles and makes you do some pretty fancy footwork...to avoid tripping and landing in the mud, doggy souvenirs and poison ivy.

Because of the cord, it took me longer to mow the lawn with the electric mower than it ever did with the push mower. I spent so much time untangling the cord from around trees, stumps, rocks, branches, the porch and my legs, I forgot why I was out in the yard. And whenever I tried to fling the cord out of my way, it inevitably landed in a bush or over a low-hanging branch. I think I even accidentally strangled a squirrel with it.

Another problem was that the only outdoor electrical outlet at our house is on the opposite side of the house from the lawn, so I had to pull the cord around two corners to get it out to the back yard. And every time I pulled on it too hard, it unplugged. I walked back to that outlet so many times to plug in the cord again, I wore a path through the grass (at least that’s one place I won’t have to worry about mowing any more).

And maybe I have crazy bees in my area, but they actually seemed to be attracted to the humming noise the lawnmower made, because they kept buzzing around me as I mowed. Either that, or I knocked their nest out of a tree when I flung the cord into the branches.

I must confess, however, that my lawn looks better than it’s ever looked, and I owe it all to my new mower.

And if anyone wants to buy it, I’m selling it dirt cheap (along with a free 100-foot cord with about 200 nicks on it)…so I can save up for a battery powered one.