I have a new toy to play with this summer – a battery-operated lawnmower – but I haven’t been very eager to use it.
Actually, the lawnmower is fine and works great. It’s quiet, turns off and on with the push of a button, and cuts the grass nice and short, just the way I like it. The problem is the yard. Trying to mow it is like trying to maneuver around an obstacle course that’s been sabotaged with booby traps.
First of all, the place is crawling with ticks. When I go out to mow the lawn, I have to dress as if I’m on my way to explore the Arctic – long pants tucked into knee socks, a long-sleeved shirt, wide-brimmed hat and combat boots. Within five minutes, I’m ready to pass out. The only thing that prevents me from keeling over is I’m afraid I’ll end up falling face first into a pile of ticks (or a pile of something else, courtesy of my dogs).
The worst part is, despite all of my precautionary layers of clothing, I’ve still found at least one tick stuck to my skin after each time I’ve mowed this year. One of them, which I discovered while showering, was buried in my armpit. After all of the sweating I’d done while mowing, all I can say is it had to be one really brave tick. On the other hand, maybe ticks don’t have nostrils.
But the nasty little buggers aren’t the only things I have to cope with while mowing. There also are the holes, ruts and trenches – all part of the network of punji pits dug by my dogs. Every time I mow the lawn, the pits seem to multiply and get deeper, and I never know what I’ll find in them. So far, it’s been everything from sharp rocks and sticks to broken dog toys – all potentially lethal weapons if either my foot or the lawnmower gets wedged into one of the holes.
I can just picture my dogs digging while fiendishly cackling to each other, “Feed us dried-up kibble while she’s eating ground sirloin, will she? This will teach her!”
There also are huge boulders beneath the ground, with only about a half-inch of them sticking up above the surface. There they lurk, just waiting for the lawnmower to hit them. I’ve probably broken a world’s record for hitting the same boulders the most consecutive number of times. And each time, the lawnmower’s blades made horrible crunching noises and shot sparks. It’s a wonder I didn’t set the house on fire.
Whenever I hit one of those hidden boulders, I always cringe, because I know I’ll have to hear the same thing from my husband...“Heard a bad scraping noise. Hit another rock? That’s not good for the blades, y’ know.”
I’m tempted to say, “No, I didn’t hit any rocks. The grass is just getting thicker and stronger every time I mow it, so it’s like cutting through steel re-bar now.”
“I think you should spray-paint the tops of those hidden boulders with a fluorescent color so you can spot them when you mow,” he adds. “You don’t want to ruin your new mower, do you?”
“I also don’t want the yard to look like and aerial view of a giant Twister game!” I answer.
And then there are the sand traps. Seriously, parts of the yard look like Hampton Beach. The dirt resembles beach sand and nothing will grow in it, which, I suppose, actually isn’t a bad thing. The only problem is when I hit one of these sand traps, the mower kicks up so much dust, I expect to see camels standing there after it clears.
I hate to admit it, but when I finally finish mowing, I usually pray for a drought so the lawn won’t grow for a while. That’s because just one good rainstorm seems to make the grass shoot up faster than Jack’s beanstalk.
Lately it seems as if there has been rain nearly every day. And every day I’ve been watching and groaning as the grass gets taller and thicker. I could swear I even saw the ticks donning tiny safari helmets and grabbing machetes. I figure by the time I get around to mowing again, I’ll need to rent haying equipment.
Or maybe I’ll just let the dogs keep digging until they turn the yard into a giant sand pit.