Published 3:13 pm Thursday, June 1, 2017
Grass. All that green ground cover in my yard that during warm weather grows faster than my graying hair. It is June, and if I’m not writing, I’m cutting grass. Or, avoiding cutting grass.
Yes, I’m one of those guys who lets things like his hair and his grass grow too long before cutting it. Embarrassingly too long. When my hair gets unruly and itchy, I begin to wonder if it’s time for a haircut. Naw, I’ve waited two months, I can wait another week or two.
I know my grass needs cutting when I see little yellow flowers At Play in the Fields of the Lord. I can usually pretend I don’t notice the dandelions, but my wife notices, and she’s hard to ignore. A well-maintained yard is a source of pride for her, an indicator of responsibility and respectability. Why she married someone as irresponsible and disrespectful as me, I’ll never know.
She’s learned over the many years that suggesting, asking, demanding, nagging me to cut the grass will not work. Instead, when the knee-high grass is just too much for her to bear, she cuts it herself — sending me into a fit of guilt.
I’ll be comfortably sitting in front of the television with a bowl of buttered microwaved popcorn watching an X Files rerun when I’ll hear the roar of either the gray or the orange lawnmower. Sure enough, she’ll be out there riding a mechanical monster, beheading the dandelions, and cutting/killing the grass as short as possible. Somehow that roar I hear sounds like “shaaaaameooooonyooooou… shaaaaameooooonyooooou… shaaaaameooooonyooooou.”
My wife is pretty smart. She knows how to pick her battles and how to win. By cutting the front (easy and small) yard (using the better of the two mowers), she knows my guilt will get the better of me by the time Fox Mulder solves the mystery of the missing mummy.
Soon, we have both of our “his and her” mowers running full tilt boogie with stereophonic roars and clouds of dust and pollen. She’ll be done in about an hour and back in the air-conditioned house. I will be just getting started on the rest of the four acres that we call our yards.
As a “creative type,” I can’t just methodically cut row after row of green stuff. I get bored easily and devise ways to make grass cutting interesting. Sometimes, I’ll purposely save a topic of personal concern to think about as I mindlessly cut. I think about the latest crazy thing President Donald Trump has tweeted, if I should use cheddar or Swiss cheese in quiche, if Mr. Spock’s copper-based blood is green, if that fire ant hill is too big to hit with a riding mower. Sometimes I drink beer to deaden the pain of fire ant bites.
More often than not, I get creative in how I actually cut the grass. There’s no fun or creativity in cutting rows up and down the two-acre hill where I park my car. But if I start in the middle and cut ever-expanding concentric circles, I get a little dizzy from the experience. Or maybe it’s just three too many beers drank under the blazing Carolina sun, using dangerous machinery that make me think funny thoughts.
Back when the children were little, I would cut them a bunny trail for Easter. I would let the grass grow unchecked until a few days before the sunrise service, letting it get at least three feet tall or taller than a two-year-old. Then I would cut a zig-zaggy maze of trails through the overgrown field and hide Easter eggs along the bunny trail. Little kids in their brand new Easter clothes love creative daddies.
You might say grass cutting drives me to distraction. Instead of staying the course and cutting all of the grass in one yard at a time, I cut wherever my wandering heart desires. Sometimes I desire to cut the grass in the lower field, behind the barn, grass that no one can see except for the deer, wild turkeys, and skunks.
In the wide-open mid fields, I try my hand at making Nazca Lines, those supersized stick figures carved into the landscape by ancient aliens. You can only see the shapes from 30,000 feet. The picture I made of Futar my dog is pretty good, if I do say so myself. That’s not what my wife said.
I say, “It’s only grass. It will grow back, just like my hair does. Do we have any more beer in the fridge?” •
Steve Wong is a freelance writer living, writing, and cutting grass in the peach
orchards of Gramling, S.C. He can be reached at Just4Wong@gMail.com.