Thursday, August 07, 2008

Splendor in the grass

I'd just as leave drive a truck when it comes right down to it, or farm, or build stuff --- do something that's useful. But the sad truth is I'm mechanically inept and you have to be mechanically apt to do stuff like that. (Well maybe not drive a truck these days, considering the price of diesel.)

I think this may be some kind of birth disorder --- color-blindness, for example. Like most of us who think we want to do stuff we can't, I prefer to think that if I really applied myself, worked hard at it, I could change the oil in the truck, too. Or build a deck. But another fact of the matter is I'd rather read another book, and not about mechanics or building decks, and so most likely will never know for sure.

Which brings me to the venerable Snapper (above). Isn't she a beauty? Looks a little like a small dinosaur that just crawled out of its rock, a fossil come to life. We've spent a lot of quality time together.

Other folks play golf; I mow lawn. It's not the finished product that's important you know. It's the process.

I like to push the old pusher (not the Snapper) out to the back 40 on a crisp day, divide it into neat quarters with even slices, then cut each quarter into swaths headed in different directions, a visual treat for whoever might be flying over. Cavafy is my lawn-mowing muse:

"Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches."

But when push comes to shove, I'm just as content aboard the Snapper going around in fast circles and getting that darned grass cut darned quick --- especially if I want to go somewhere else or it's 100 degrees in the shade.

The Snapper had developed a couple of minor problems this summer --- it needed a new part and one tire was wounded. So Darrin came over last week and fixed her up and on Monday when, plagued by heat and houseguests, I fired her up and roared out to the back 40 I was fired up, too.

Then I noticed she was riding kind of high --- not cutting the grass short enough.

Now I don't want no long-haired hippy lawn. I want buzz-cut. I've got long-haired hippy lawns for neighbors. The guy who owns the quarter block back of me doesn't care about grass --- he's focused on the model train outfit he's been building for years among the tufts and weeds. Fine by me; mine looks better by comparison. The guy who owns the other half of my quarter block, just to the south, cares too much about his grass and he likes it long, uniform, weed free and boring (he patrols the line with a spray can filled with poison, zapping any hapless immigrant that tries to sneak over the border from my territory into his and has accused me at times of grass abuse for cutting mine too short). I still cut mine short.

Anyhow, I kept mowing even though what was left was way too long, then drove the Snapper back to the house trying to figure out why she hadn't cut shorter.

As it turns out, Darrin had been watching and came over to see how the old lady had performed. "Well," I said, "she's cutting a little long."

"Well," he said (or something like this; trying to spare my tender feelings), "you know that little lever right there raises and lowers the blade; I raised it when I fixed it and forgot to lower it again."

Now I knew that --- a couple of years ago; but since I always mow short hadn't thought about it in a long time and that useful piece of information had just flown right out of my pretty little head.

So he lowered the blade, I rose above my humiliation, fired her up, went back to the back 40 and mowed it again. It was just as much fun that time as it had been the first time around.


Ed Abbey said...

I've been wanting to find me an old Snapper like yours that was priced right. I just can't justify buying a bigger pricier one and I figured with the simplicity it would be easy to fix when they break.

Frank D. Myers said...

She is a miracle of sturdiness and simplicity. Only one close-to-major problem many years ago when the engine-mount bolts shook loose and another minor problem when Darrin had to replace the same part he replaced last week (maybe six years after the first time). She needs a new battery, but since she always starts on the first pull anyway I figure why bother.