By G. E. Shuman
You know how, at times, there is a rhyme, or a song that you love: “How Sweet It Is” — James Taylor, or hate: “It’s A Small World” — Disney and Company, and it just gets stuck in your head, sometimes for an entire day? Well, I must tell you that at this time of year, EVERY year, since I was a child, the following tiny poem worms its way out of the deepest, dumbest area of my brain: “Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the flowers is.” I think my father said that silly poem to me once, and evidently, once was enough. Now I have passed it along to you, and you can thank me, or hurt me, later.
Last Saturday I was outside puttering and sputtering around, and decided, since spring had sprung, that I would do some much-needed yard work. The work I had put off was raking ANY of the leaves from our huge maple tree, last fall. (The only thing that I like about winter here in Vermont is that it very effectively puts off yard work until spring.) Being somewhat allergic to lawn rakes and shovels, putting off until spring what you can’t do in winter anyway suits me fine.
To do this much overdue chore I got out my trusty lawnmower. That poor old mower was a birthday gift from my wife, about 12 years ago. (Remind me to buy her a new iron or vacuum cleaner for her next birthday.) Anyway, the sorry old thing has seen her better days (I mean the mower, not my wife), and I had intended to buy a new one this spring. The only thing is, as usual, she immediately came back to life for me last Saturday, and I just hate to ‘put her down’ quite yet. (I’m still talking about the mower, not my wife.) Truthfully, it has become somewhat of a challenge for me, to see how many years this little, $99 (on sale at Stuff-Mart) machine will last. (There’s nothing too good for me on my birthday, I guess.)
The mower was running a bit rough several years ago, and one of my neighbors told me that for only $129 I could have it tuned up. (My thought, as he said that, was: Or I could give this one away, and spend another $99 (on sale at Stuff-Mart) for another brand new one. What I actually did was visit my favorite hardware store and purchase a $3 spark plug for the mower. It has been running great ever since. So much for the tune-up.
The amazing thing is that I do torture the little mower, and it just keeps coming back for more. The very first thing I did after we got it home from the store was to drill two holes in the front of its frame, for S-hooks, which I attach to ropes, which I use to dangle the mower down the steep bank in front of our house, to mow that hill. When mowing the lawn the first few times each spring I also tend to hit a lot of twigs from the trees and rocks that have been thrown up onto the lawn by my least favorite but most appreciated piece of yard equipment, my snow blower. (I think the snow blower is ready for its 20th birthday, at least, and that thing just keeps on going, too.)
Yes, I have not been kind to my little lawn mower. I have run over the dog run a few times, and even ‘mow’ my carport several times each summer with it. I try to do that at night, so no one sees. It works great to blow a winters worth of gravel, salt, and sand off that asphalt and into the neighbor’s trees. (I’m sorry, little mower, but I never promised you a rose garden. I did let you grind up the wild roses out back last year, though. Remember?) Wait, was I talking to a lawn mower just then?
Anyway, last Saturday, as I said, and because of that lawn rake allergy that I suffer from, I got the mower out, pulled the cord, the poor old thing started, and I proceeded to run it all over the lawn, ‘mowing’ all those leaves from last fall into cornflake-looking little crunchy pieces. I was told that they would make good, natural, organic fertilizer for the grass. That sounded good to me. What actually happened is that Saturday was a very blustery day, as Winnie the Pooh might say. My leaf-cornflakes took to the sky, and I haven’t seen or heard from them since. “Away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.” (Oh, that’s from another season.)
So, “spring has sprung” and my newly-bare lawn won’t have the benefit of mulched up leaves to help it grow, but that’s okay. It might also be a bit longer before “the grass is riz.” Until then, I might have to find something else for the mower to chew on. “I wonder where the flowers is.”