Mike Firesmith: I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won

Posted on September 7, 2012


By Mike Firesmith

At seven this morning I was in the yard tossing some limbs and tree debris into a pile while waiting for the sun to get up.  Back in June I could have been mowing already but the sun has only begun to brighten the sky. It’s 74 degrees, humid, and muggy. This is still summerlike weather even if the sun has slept in for Labor Day. It’s an outdoor sauna with mosquitoes and gnats instead of tiki torches and a pool.

The mosquitoes are mostly gone, really, and not nearly as bad as they were back a few months ago. There were brutal back in the first months of Summer. That was over sixty days ago and I’ve mowed the yard eight times since then. Once a week is just a bit much but there for a while it wasn’t at all. Now it’s a little easier. In a week I’ll mow for the last time weekly. Then it will be every two weeks and then once in October.

The woods encroached from the west of the yard and I’ve encouraged this, true enough, but this Summer I hacked everything back. I push the mower north from the fence that separates the front yard and the back yard so as to mow the front yard first. From my fence to my neighbor’s fence, in more or less a straight line, I mow. There is ten feet between his fence posts, seven spaces between posts so the front is seventy feet wide. The mower cuts a path just under two feet so about thirty-five laps back and forth before I’m done.  My mind begins to drift.

There’s a 5K road race I have to run on October the 13th. This is six weeks and five days away so yesterday I ran three miles and my knees hurt this morning. More exercise is the key to eliminating soreness so the mowing will help, I hope.

I’ve been trying to write for the last three days and all I’ve gotten so far is nowhere and nothing. Writing isn’t like mowing or running, but then again it is. Progress can be measured and there is only so much I can do.  I know when I’ve finished mowing, but then again, if I want to clear out some of the more wooly areas of my property I’ll have to expand.  I wonder if there will be a day I’ll spend more time mowing than I will not mowing. The prospect of mowing more than I already am is a little daunting but then again so is running in another 5K race. I haven’t run in a race in a few years. I was kinda hoping to keep it that way.

Back from one fence and back to the other, and after I get through one section the sun comes over to see what I am doing. The first rays of direct light bisect the yard and it is very pretty. Cameras can’t really see everything and if I went inside to get the camera I wonder if I could capture this.  I keep mowing instead.  I get to where the house is between the fences and start going in circles rather than back and forth.  The area needing to be mowed gets smaller.

The backyard is where the mutts stay and there are craters, I tell you.  For reasons I cannot explain the addition of Lillith to the pack has also kick started excavations on a grand scale. Perhaps it is because she wears both the older dogs out and these are their defensive earthworks against her assaults. Perhaps they seek more coolness because they exercise more. And perhaps it is Lillith using her puppy energy to good effect.

The backyard has a mutt path so I mow one side and then the other. The eastern side has thicker grass and is harder to mow so I attack it first. But the grass hasn’t grown as well here. There is one thick part where there was once a tree stump, but by and large it isn’t as thick considering the rain we’ve had. My mind wanders.

What if I can’t write? I can’t run like I once did so what happens if I get to the point my writing begins to fade away, like a six minute mile? This is the only real worrisome part of the deal. I can handle not running a six minute mile a lot easier than I can not being able to write. A friend of mine played drums for a very long while but he quit. He said it was his reflexes getting slower but the truth is he got tired of trying. He began a slow descent into some sort of life- wide funk that he never really Bikerecovered from at all. He’s living in our hometown and using a kid’s bike to get to and from like he did when I knew him as a youngster.  That’s a tough thing to do in a small town. When you fail at being anything at all and have to revert back to being a kid growing old it’s tough. He does yardwork just like he once did and I can remember seeing him in High School raking leaves in someone’s yard for weekend money. Now he does the same thing for a living or what passes as such. I wonder if he ever looks back at what he did with his creativity and wonders…

The backyard is done and the dogs come to greet me. They won’t get near the mower and when I’m done it is like I’ve gotten back from somewhere. Maybe they’re right in their own way. I’ve spent nearly two hours with my mind roaming free and thoughts being filed away, scattered out, retrieved again, and forgotten forever, perhaps. I can go in now and take a shower. It is not nearly nine and the Muse might favor me with a few words. These are it.

Take Care,

MikeFountain Pen


See more of Mike Firesmith’s work at The Hickory Head Hermit.