When I bought my house I had no idea how grass worked.
Yes, that’s stupid.
Yes, I’m the daughter of a man with a career which is based entirely on the notion that things grow and people want them to.
But I grew up in the Rogue Valley. It’s dry in them thar hills. If you don’t want something to grow down there, you know what? You don’t water it. Unless it’s star thistle, and fuck you, star thistle.
If you don’t want something to grow in the Willamette (Will-AH-mit, please) Valley, you have to enact a scorched earth policy that makes Generals Grant and Lee look like big softies. You have to pull it up, spray the dirt, salt the spray, cover it with a tarp, cover that with more plastic, jump up and down on it, and then plant something else (maybe kudzu or English ivy) on top. I think we all know how well that works out.
Enter me. I didn’t want a lawn. My house came with a lawn. My solution was “don’t water it.”
The Willamette Valley grew wild prairie three feet tall in the 100-foot-wide stretch of “property” around my house just to mock me.
When I borrowed a weed whacker to give the house a bikini trim, my neighbors came out to watch. Apparently they hadn’t been sure anyone even lived in the house. So that was my debut to the neighborhood, sweaty and covered in grass seed.
I tried. Oh, I tried. Four weed whackers, all the sprays, the poisons, the landscape cloth… nothing worked. The prairie murdered two lawnmowers. I considered buying an actual scythe. I tried an electric mower, which added “don’t cross the orange line or you will die” fear to my attempts at responsible homeownership.
And then he came into my life.
My friends were buying a new lawnmower, did I want their old one? “It’s a little wonky, but it works just fine” they said, as they abandoned him at my house like a craigslisted pet.
A little wonky doesn’t begin to describe this mower. His handle was originally meant to fold down and is held in place with two big knobs that… wait, one knob and a wingnut. The other knob fell off a couple weeks ago, causing some tension between me and The Boy (1. I have had that mower for twelve fucking years and I never failed to notice when the knob THAT HOLDS THE HANDLE ON fell off; 2. How difficult is purchasing a wingnut?). Anyway, these knobs may loosen over time as you mow, causing the handle to flop.
Sometimes he doesn’t start for men. He has never failed to start for me, and almost never starts for The Boy. I’ve watched. We do the exact same starting rituals.
He likes to be left in the sun for 15 minutes before you ask him to work.
You have to add carb cleaner to the gas, or it’s not an appropriate octane level for the engine. As a related tip, the kid at Chevron 2757 on Powell Blvd is a fucking genius with small engines.
This mower will cut anything. ANYTHING. Grass, small trees, the occasional cinder block. Sure, sometimes I have to tip him up by the wonky handle and pull a mass of jungle flora out of his blades, but it’s a small price to pay. He’s been there for me for twelve years, a loyal companion and an uncomplaining partner in the neverending chore that is being a grownup.