I love to push a lawn mower over a lawn
There is seriously something wrong with me.
I love to mow.
I don’t mean sitting on one of those fancy riding lawn mowers covering several acres. I don’t even like self-propelled walk behind styles.
I love to push a lawn mower over a lawn, feeling the grass pushed under the deck and falling prey to the sharp, spinning blade.
My first job was pushing a mower around yards in our neighborhood. When I grew old enough, I took my father’s 1966 El Camino and drove all over the county making tall grass short for a little bit of money.
My mowing career slowed down when I went to college but it soon returned when I coached a youth baseball team for 10 years. The city provided the lights for the field but they left the upkeep to us. I didn’t mind that at all. I mowed the outfield while my friend Brad, with whom I coached, mowed and marked the infield for games at least once a week.
It was a labor of love. Our fields looked so good that when a long-time friend of Brad’s died in a tragic car accident, his wife said he had talked about wanting his ashes scattered on a baseball field when he died. She asked Brad if they could use our field for a memorial service.
How could he say no?
Any friend of Brad’s was a friend of mine and so we worked all evening until long after the sun went down making sure every blade of grass was perfect and every chalk line was straight. Joe couldn’t have asked for a better field for his ashes to become a part of. Yankee Stadium groundskeepers would have been jealous. That strange ritual led to several years of memories as anytime a ball bounced a little funny or someone reached base on an inexplicable error, the boys would thank Joe for his help.
Even today, I still enjoy loading sermon podcasts or audiobooks onto my iPod and spending hours sweating behind a push mower at both of my offices and around my home. It is literally the only cardio workout I endorse.
But Saturday morning I was reminded of why I have such affection for an activity many consider a chore.
As I fired up the mower at my mom’s house in Chickasha, Okla. I was taken back more than three decades to the first time my dad taught me to take care of the lawn. That chubby 11-year old came back out of me and I could remember circling that yard over and over. I remembered my dad telling me to step carefully so my lines would stay straight. I remember the life-long lesson of taking a stick and putting it just inside the side discharge and watching it explode into pieces. He told me if I enjoyed having 10 fingers, I would make sure the mower was completely stopped before my hand was anywhere near that spot.
To this day, I never work on a mower without disabling the spark plug. What can I say, I like my fingers – all 10 of them.
As I completed the job I could still hear dad telling me to always take one last look over the lawn and make sure it was perfect.
It has been more than a year since death took dad from us. I don’t think of him every day now. Those are bad days.
I love how many parts of my life he is still very active in because of the time he invested in me over the years we shared.
He couldn’t have known what would be important to me when he was gone. But he did know that every second counted.
That’s a lesson I still need to learn.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org