Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Hate Yard Work

If the sun is up, my neighborhood is alive with the sound of small gas-powered engines. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, driveway vacuums, wood chippers, noise makers. I sit inside feeling like the Grinch on Christmas morning. I don't know what kind of a kick these people get from wandering their lawns all day long keeping them in order like some kind of supernatural drill sergeant.

Maybe they didn't get the memo that we live near Houston, that's it's a billion degrees and humid outside, that it's not fun to do yard work. Or maybe they're tapped into some kind of hidden pleasure that completely eludes me. Or maybe my heart is two-sizes too small. I just don't know.

We spend lots of time with our neighbors. We all get along. Not in the sense that if we lived far apart we would buy airline tickets to make sure that we all held hands at Thanksgiving, or even that we would be friends if we all met at work. We just get along and the kids get along and sitting outside on lawnchairs while the kids play is a nice way to spend an evening.

But we all have our downsides as neighbors. Our downside has got to be our total lack of respect for a respectful yard.

The woman who lived her before us was old and tidy. She kept the "garden" nice and neat. She watered regularly and had someone make sure that all the bushes, trees, and grass conformed to certain angles that expressed order and civilization.

We could give a shit.

While our messiness is sure to irritate the neighbors, their noisiness tap dances on my nerves. Our next-door neighbor mows his lawn twice a week. When he's not mowing, he's out there with a little garden hose making sure that individual blades of grass are refreshed. Then he edges, blows the drive, and cleans off the roof. It's exhaustive to watch. I can't imagine doing it.

When we got back from our vacation, we saw a jungle where our backyard used to be. To me, the overgrown look is peaceful, natural, and comfortable. But it is also comfortable for snakes. So I had to take my mower to it this weekend. Easier said than done.

We bought an old-fashion push-mower. I need the exercise and the environment needs our support. The unregulated engines on mowers can cause as much pollution mowing a .5 acre yard as a 200 mile trip in an SUV. By using the spiraling blades of a push mower, I contribute to the peace of the neighborhood while adding years to the lifespan of all human beings---if I did the math right.

But our amazonian backyard was more than I had bargained for. Half way through, I was taking breaks after every circle. Then I started to wonder if the push mower was meant to be pushed quite so hard. Then, I noticed a crack in the metal handle. Sure enough, I broke my push mower. So as not to leave an offensive Mohawk in the backyard, I covertly fired up our old gas-guzzler and finished the job. It was a humbling moment for me.

A student of mine--a recently divorced mother of two--suggested that my neighbors are trying to avoid spending time with their wives when they devote so much time to the yard. A religious friend of mine once suggested that these yardaholics worship their yards in a strange way.

One of these days, I have to make peace with yard work, I know. There must be some common ground. Nurturing what you love is certainly a good thing. I love spending time outside, but I'd prefer not to do it while laboring to tame the outside.

After I've made peace with yard work, I plan to make peace with house cleaning. I just feel like World Peace is a more realistic concept.

6 comments:

Jennifer Chernoff said...

I agree. I think people spend time in their yard because the consider it a hobby, not unlike working on a car or playing pool in the basement... a hobby to get away from each other.

Good for you for mowing that much. I bet if you ever get that thing fixed or a new one, you will be able to mow your lawn eventually with out any breaks!

I think if I ever buy a house I want to take out the yard and have a perennial garden that is allowed to grow and grow.

Wynnie said...

Aww! Don't give up on your push-reel. We love ours. Our lawn is certainly not the best maintained on the block as the blades haven't been sharpened in ages, but it passes muster most days. We've never owned a gas mower so it's going on ... 7 years with the push. Good luck with it.

amy said...

Right on!

Anonymous said...

just wanted to say hello - I came across your blog several months ago and really enjoy reading! we just bought a house last month so we're having to deal with lawncare for the first time. ugh! not fun! but we're not obsessing over it.

- Kristen, twin mom

Anonymous said...

just wanted to say hello - I came across your blog several months ago and really enjoy reading! we just bought a house last month so we're having to deal with lawncare for the first time. ugh! not fun! but we're not obsessing over it.

- Kristen, twin mom

Sol Smith said...

Thanks for reading, Kristin! Sorry that I somehow got you up there two times. I don't get it.

I have quite a few subscribers and it's really nice to know who they are what they're like, etc.

Yeah, yard care is not only boring, but a pain. I just don't know how people can obsess over it.