Harvesting the Prairie

I was gone to Wyoming for a lovely nine days. Two weeks late for the full eclipse, sadly, but a wonderful trip nonetheless. Crowds were bad enough. I can’t imagine the bottleneck today, though Wyoming is a great state for a swarm of folks looking up. Lots of room to spread out, and I wish I could be there to see the 360 sunset during the darkest part of the eclipse.
Good googly moogly, that would be an awesome sight.
But anyway, back to me.
I returned from the mountains and altitude to flat lined prairies. Still resplendent in their simplicity, though I miss the northwest vistas covered in antelope.
Life awaited. Vacation was over. And there was the lawn, right where I left it.
Usually my lawn maintenance schedule is fluid. I ignore the growth until I can’t stand my own whining, “I don’t wanna.” Once I’ve annoyed myself enough, I slump and head to the garage to get started.
First, I surveyed the damage. Nine days of light rain and lowered August heat certainly invigorated the tender follicles of my vast three acres. I sighed, heavily, and I got to work.
I felt like a barber, planning the attack on a ruly mane. Cut the whole thing on the highest setting — a 6 — then a four, then hopefully trim the beast into a manageable 3.
Only a few times did the beast chug on the 6, giving me false optimism. Because rounding the bend on turn four hundred twenty-three, the Deere laughed and laughed to a stuttering choke.
Poor Bubs. I had to interrupt his catching-up-from-vacay gaming marathon so he could throw on his boots and help Mom roll the neutralized beast out of the mounded, unbaled clippings and into flatter terrain.
When we stood from our thirty degree incline, from all of our weight thrown behind a reluctant mule, Bubs got to his feet, announced, “Whew! I’m beat,” and returned to his pixelated onslaught.
Things proceeded more easily from there. Sure, I had rolled over the lawn for three hours, and it was tamed at last.
But for the ditches.
I can’t ride the ditches. The slant makes me nervous. With every sideways angle, I envision myself on a gassed up, wheels still rolling turtle that bucked me just because it could. Thus, I concede to terror and simply walk the rest: the ditches, the edges, the gardens, the chicken coop, the veggies…good grief, it’s a lot.
But walk-mowing is exercise! It’s a labor of love! It prevents a call from the city for unsightly grounds tickets.
After another hour of sweating so heavily I appeared to have relieved myself during the toil — though I assure, I was so dehydrated that urinating was the last thing my body needed to do — I approached the last few hundred feet of still unmanaged green, and the mower bucked, refusing to be shoved into even one more unfettered verdant isle.
I encouraged the mower, “It’s only three feet tall. Aim low. You can take it.”
But, no. The mower said no. At which point I got insistent and with a last guttural hurrah, I shoved the sucker forward into the unknown.
And from the front of the machine, out rolled a full-sized, gloriously orange pumpkin.
Lesson learned: don’t mother the gourds. They’ll be fine.
Also — best part — I live between competing Hank Hills, though one has more lawn ethic than the other. The left just gets it done to get back to fun stuff. The right, well, he is meticulous. Yet because of the rains, neither of them had gotten around to sculpting their grasses. Which meant, that after collapsing over the handle of my mower and relenting to the weeds that lay blessedly in the shade — pulling them by the handfuls simply because they were stationary and I wouldn’t have to walk any more for a while — I was The First to Mow. I was manicured! I was kempt! The Hank Hills of the prairie were NOT!
Ha! And again, Ha! I won!
Less than 12 minutes later, while I was still recuperating on my butt next to a pile of weeds and non-desirable bits of roughage and still mentally begging the fridge to bring me a cold apple cider beer, I heard the start-up of the Engine on the Right.
Hank Hill was ready to nip the superfluous three inches from his own beloved landscape.
I still won.


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