Monday, October 1, 2012
The horror of the mower
Cutting grass on a riding lawnmower is the most active thing you can do without doing a thing other than being bobbled around on your lily white butt and steering a go-gart with a mulching, gulping, photosynthesis-tipped-and-bleeding maw.
A deadly process, that. Especially if you're a toad or a hairy caterpillar, or one of the herd of bifurcating mushrooms growing in our yard.
I was cutting grass yesterday, because I had to do something. What I wanted to do was watch TV but Dave was outside chopping wood, taking the swimming pool down and putting tires on the utility trailer. Every once in a while he'd peek through the window at me happily hunkered down on the chesterfield with a mouth full of Veggie Pizza and the clicker-box in high gear, and he didn't look pleased.
Fine, then. Feck it. I put on my work gloves and went outside to see how I could help my lord and master around the yard.
"Did you want some help splitting kindling?" I asked.
"Sure!" he said, beyond bliss because I had finally come outside.
I split kindling for ages, at least 10 minutes. Needing a break I asked, "Would you like me to cut the grass?"
"Sure," said Dave, with no exclamation point because his bliss was thinning and now he had to stop what he was doing and check the oil in the lawn tractor and add air to the tires. While he did that I went inside, filched a little more Veggie Pizza because I had burned off so many calories with the 10 minutes of woodsplitting, then cruised Facebook, adding a few witticisms that were bound to make the world a better place. When I heard the lawnmower running I sighed my best martyr's sigh and tromped out the door, wearing my best martyr's frown, to trim the family real estate.
The thing I noticed, as I whirred and jiggled across the lawn, which can barely be called a lawn as it is actually a series of weed beds connected by a snaking web of tree roots, is how many mushrooms have popped up since the summer drought abruptly ended with a month of rain. I had, in fact, been admiring two mushrooms that grew side by side next to the driveway. They looked remarkably like golf balls, if looked at from certain angles. From other angles, they reminded me of breasts, especially as their firm round youth gave way to middle-aged spread and started looking all age-spotted, leathery and droopy.
As I made my first few passes around the yard I avoided the mushrooms. I like mushrooms. I don't like eating them, because how can anyone eat anything that has been grown in manure, but I do like their aesthetic, their meaty perkiness in the wild. How many times have you stopped on a hike simply to admire a passing mushroom? Or to pretend to ogle a mushroom while you actually caught your breath and tried to not have a heart attack because of all your couch surfing and Veggie Pizza scarfing?
After a few rounds of the yard, though, it was apparent that I would have to run over the mushrooms if I wanted to do a good job on the grass.
"I'm sorry," I said to the shrooms as I ran them right over.
Their stalky bits shredded like mozzarella at a pizza joint, spewing all over the yard like they were blown out of a cannon.
I squealed something raucous and obnoxious like "Woot!" and did a quick u-turn to go back and see what was left. Most of the mushrooms were now confetti but the top of the biggest mushroom was now upside down. With maniacal glee I ran over it, expecting the top would shred like the rest, only to realize that the tire had merely squished it and now it looked for all the world like a turd from a St. Bernard, run over by a Cadillac.
That's the moment everything changed. Mushroom-killing fever gave new purpose to my lawn-cutting roundey-rounds. I was now a Big Game Hunter, searching for shrooms, slicing, dicing and julienne-frying them, squishing and mashing them. Along the way I also chopped up dog poop, which schmushed into the ground if it was fresh or, if it was dry, spit out of the lawnmower like a cabbage from a Cusinart.
It was all an adventure now, what else could I squelch? Dave had trimmed the dog the other day and I swerved to hit the pile of dog fluff; it blow-gunned out from the bottom of my machinating mower before floating back to the ground, looking remarkably blow-dried. For one horrible moment I wondered if it was the actual dog I had run over, and not just the dog hair. That sobering revelation might have been enough to end the killing spree that my lawnmowing had become, it might have been enough for less evil mortals, but I continued splatting mushrooms and dog poo until the lawn was done.
I climbed off the mower and sat on the front porch to survey my work. From that distance it looked like a lovely lawn, almost golf course-ish in its freshly polished green coat. From that distance you couldn't see the mashed mushrooms; you couldn't hear the screams of the leopard frogs and the hairy caterpillars as they ran for cover; you couldn't smell the olfactory distress that was the scent of newly upturned doggie doo.
Like all nightmares, it's only when you look close that true horror unfolds.