There was a time when my three daughters would argue over whose turn it was to circle the yard on the riding lawnmower.
Now that they all drive cars and the yard has swelled to five acres, each daughter insists on letting her sisters go first.
Such sweetness I scarcely can comprehend.
If I’d known we were going to end up with such a huge yard, I might have placed mowing on the chore list years ago. But my sisters never had to mow grass. That job fell to my brother and me.
Actually, it first fell to me because my brother is 10 years younger. During my early mowing career, Dad could not understand why I didn’t start up a neighborhood lawn-mowing enterprise and generate hundreds of dollars every summer to put toward college.
I mostly shunned that idea for the simple reason that I hated mowing. I hated pushing a clunky machine back and forth and up and down. I hated when it would choke on the thick grass and die, and I hated it even more when it would start up again despite my wishing that it would remain dead for a brief reprieve.
And I really hated trimming. Anyone who thinks string trimmers are a pain was not alive when we had to use those spring-action, manual clippers that looked like big scissors. When they invented electric hand trimmers, we thought we were in heaven.
Another turning point was the day Dad brought home a new self-propelled mower — ultimately a turn for the worse. Although I could hear an angel chorus during the first few push-free cuttings, I grew to loathe the technology.
Whether driven by gear, belt or chain, every self-propelled mower that Dad acquired soon ground its way back down to plain-old push — only heavier.
When my parents retired and moved back to the farm in 1997, Dad decided to spend his leisure years mowing the farm. He quickly saw that push mowers were no match for the roughly 15 acres that he wanted to groom to golf-course condition, so he purchased two commercial-grade mowing machines.
Dad is gone now, and the farm has become a family compound. My daughters lack the miserable push-mowing experience that would make them really appreciate the liberating force behind the ginormous mowing machines left to us by their grandfather.
Carly, the oldest, is the latest inductee into the large-scale-mowing club. Whether she will continue to pay her dues is questionable. The poor girl is allergic.
Carly inherited her allergies from me. They can be an asset. When it comes to mowing avoidance, allergies are nearly as good as a dead engine. There were times I had to come in from mowing and lie on the sofa with a wet washcloth over my eyes.
Sometimes it was all I could do to hold that position until it was too dark to mow.
I’m proud of Carly. She tied a bandana around her face and took her first turn on the machine we affectionately call Big Momma Scag. Between sneezes, she said it was a pretty rough go.
Yep, should have started her out on the hand trimmers.
Contact Mark Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.