My wife says it’s always the first sign of spring: I come into the house and mention that I think I’ve broken the lawnmower.
Six weeks ago I wandered in and said that the mower was making a high-pitched squeal, and I was pretty certain it wasn’t normal.
Jenny had told me last summer that only our high-school junior, Joe, should use the mower because when he’s finished, it still works.
Joe actually mowed the yard that time. I just told him to leave the mower out so I could whack off the monkey grass that edges the flower bed.
Anyway, Jenny was quick to remind me that the same thing happened last year. And she had told me not to do it again. She says mowers are not made to mow monkey grass.
I called the repair shop in Florence, Ala., where we live, and they sent someone by to pick it up. (It’s a walk-behind, self-propelled, but it’s too big to fit in our cars.) They already knew where I lived because it was the fourth time I had torn up the lawnmower in three years.
Three weeks ago the mower came home good as new, at least until I made one round in the yard and bumped the blade into a jagged concrete edge along the driveway. Then the all-to-familiar squeal started again.
Too embarrassed to call the same shop, I called a local hardware store. The owner sent someone right over to get it, but he warned that it might be two or three weeks before they could get to the repair.
Apparently I’m not the only person who has a penchant for breaking mowers, weed-whackers and blowers.
When I was back in Florence for Mother’s Day weekend, I checked on the mower. Still not fixed, but the combination of good fertilizer and lots of rain had turned our yard into an eyesore. I suggested to Jenny that she should ask a neighbor down the street for the number of the lawn service that does his yard.
This past weekend when I was in Florence, the mower was still in for repair. But the lawn had been freshly mowed.
It turns out Jack and Nancy, neighbors across the street, had stopped Jenny one afternoon and asked her if we had any snakes yet? She thought they must be kidding, or maybe not.
Anyway, Jack volunteered to loan his riding lawnmower. Naturally, Jenny declined. Knowing how much we have spent getting a regular mower fixed, she wasn’t going to let me near a neighbor’s rider.
So Jack just rode his mower over and mowed our foot-high grass. I guess it’s one of the neighborly things we do here in the South.
So far, the lawnmower is still in the shop. And Jenny suggested I buy another one because it would improve the odds that one of them might be working.
Joe’s not so much in favor, though. He looks at it this way: No lawnmower, no lawn mowing.
You’ve got to admire teenage thinking.