Last week, the day before I turned our old house over to its new owners, I mowed the lawn for the last time. Over the 12 years we lived in Loveland, mowing the lawn was something my husband and I fought over. We both loved to do it. Lucky for me, working from a home office, I won most of the races to the mower because I could run over and start it up whenever I wanted.
For me, mowing the lawn was a time when it looked like I was working, when really my mind was just wandering. The lawn was close to an acre in size, and I would have gotten rid of it, or turned it into pasture, but it was so easy to take care of. The ditch leaked into the pond to give us free water, the pond ran the automatic sprinkler system, the grass greened and grew, and once a week I took an hour on the riding lawn mower to turn it into a pleasant green carpet. I drove a pattern of my own design, over-lapping the tire tracks of the previous pass, turning into smaller and smaller circles, focused on nothing more than trying to do it as efficiently as possible with a minimum of backing up. It was my own meditation, and what I always did when I was tense, or just too tired to come up with a new answer for my work.
So mowing the lawn on that very last day at the house was a natural thing to do. I was stressed, and I need the soothing monotony of going round and round and round. As I drove, I thought about the fact that in Tucson, I’ll never mow another lawn. I considered the waste of all the gas I’d used once a week for 4 months a year, over 12 years, and wondered if the new owners would do the same. And I thought of all the relaxation I’d enjoyed in the process of making a green carpet, and afterward enjoying looking at my handiwork.
And then the mower chugged, backfired, and stopped.
I don’t like fixing lawn mowers nearly as much as I like riding them. I replaced the fuel filter and the air filter, got out the instructions and followed them for restarting our 10-year-old black beauty, and finally got it going again. It stalled out a couple more times, and I finished the lawn mowing at high speed to beat the coming thunderstorm. Then I drove it into the workshop garage and shut it down for the very last time.
I know that it’s silly that my last lawn-mowing brings tears to my eyes. I know that it’s a waste of time and resources to do this simple task. Maybe I can explain it away by saying that my ancestors liked closely-cropped grass because it made it easier to identify dangerous predators. But really, I just loved it for the beauty.
And sometimes beauty is enough.