The Virtues of Mowing the Lawn

Mowing the lawn is not my least favorite chore. This is high praise much like the movie reviews of my father whose best compliment is, “I didn’t regret seeing it.”

When we moved into our house, my husband informed me he had a grass allergy and that the mowing responsibility would fall to me. (Cue the jokes about how oh so convenient that is.)

Growing up with three older brothers, our chores fell on gender lines, so I had never mowed the lawn before. Even one brother with severe allergies was forced to take his turn with tears streaming down his face and all.

Okay, I thought to myself. I’ve gotta figure this out.

I was fortunate to be given a lawn mower by my dad who was downsizing to a condo. When the big moment arrived, I primed the mower three times, I held the bar, I yanked the chain — and nothing! What am I doing wrong? I wondered.

I called both my dad and step-dad, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong by my description. So, I face-timed one of my brothers.

“You know, Maura, when lawn mowers have been sitting for a while, sometimes you just really need to yank the cord hard.”

“So, just yank the shit out of the cord?” I asked.

“Yes,” he laughed and then panned the phone over to my young nephews who were in the room.

“Oh! I’m so sorry,” I apologized for being the worst aunt ever.

And guess what? Yanking the shit out of the cord worked!

Next season the mower began smoking. It finally died after being over-filled with oil and me spending an hour and a half trying to get the excess oil out with a turkey baster. We now have a battery-operated electric mower, and it’s pretty baller.

I like that mowing the lawn gets me outside. Wisconsin summers are lovely but short, so the more outdoor time the better. And since I can’t mow when it’s raining, whenever I mow I’m in the sun! Nothing beats the fresh air either. Each inhale is good for the soul.

It’s also a little exercise which means I’m getting endorphins. Plus, I’m focused on what I’m doing. My worries slip out of my mind as I concentrate on getting in between the solar lights or getting up and down that pesky hill in the frontyard.

And while I love the work I get to do daily — writing, interacting on social media, there’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing a direct and physical result of your work. The grass was long. Now it’s short.

My yard is far from perfect. Despite the work I’ve done, it still has a whole lot of weeds! When we first moved here from our apartment that had no outdoor space (honestly we barely even opened the windows due to a bee problem), I daydreamed about getting a grill, a fire pit for entertaining friends, and a beautiful garden where I would pick fresh peppers to put into dinner salads. I don’t have any of those things — they weren’t exactly in the budget after our new lawn mower purchase. But in my yard I do have hanging plants I bought at a K-mart going-out-of-business sale that I adore, I do have some cute bunnies that I name and am slightly obsessed with, I do have magical little fireflies that light up the summer nights, and I do have a sense of peace and appreciation for simply being outside.

When I mow the lawn, I’m able to focus, be present, and enjoy simple pleasures. Now I just need to figure out how I can find that same perspective for all other aspects of my life…