From the Mental Album – The Curse of the Lawnmower

My family has some interesting experiences when it comes to lawnmowers.  And of course, the only type of "interesting" that makes it onto this blog is synonymous with "traumatic-at-the-time, but funny-years-later".

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The oldest was when I just an infant.  My Dad had me on his lap sitting outside, watching my Mom mow our lawn.  Our yard at the time had a telephone pole near one of the corners, and an anchor wire that came down to the ground.  Where it met the ground was a patch of very long grass.

When my mom got very close to that patch of grass, the family of rabbits that was taking shelter there decided that this loud, rumbling thing bearing down on them wasn’t going to divert, and decided to make a quick exit.

My mom, being focused on avoiding the cable, suddenly saw a group of small, furry, and VERY fast things explode at her feet in multiple directions at once.  She didn’t realize what what going on, but the adrenaline kicked in and she jumped and yelped.

My dad being several yards away from the bunny explosion, immediately saw what they were.  Being the loving husband that he was, simply pointed out the shrieking thing at the end of the yard to me, "Look, Mark – watch mommy jump!"

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Not to worry.  Fate, it seems, has a sense of irony.  A few years later (I was probably 4 or so), dad was mowing the yard.  All was well, until a different set of creatures decided that they didn’t want to be run over with the mower, and also decided to make a quick exit.  Unfortunately, the creatures this time were ground-nesting hornets, and they weren’t exiting to run away so much as they were exiting to attack.

Dad made a standing long jump over the mower and ran frantically to the house.  Mom heard him yell from inside the house and ran to open the door.  They shut it in time to keep the hornets out.

I happened to be playing in our neighbor’s yard at the time.  Their house had a staircase that went up to their second floor.  When my dad started screaming about the hornets, I turned tail and ran up to the second floor.  When I got to the top, the male part of my personality kicked in and decided that I needed to be brave and help my dad, so I ran back down.  When I got the ground, the "what-the-heck-are-you-thinking-that’s-a-whole-nest-of-hornets-chasing-him!" part of my personality took over and I ran back up.

***

Years later, I was mowing my grandfather’s yard.  He had a small riding mower, and getting to use it was a treat – I mean how else was I going to get any experience driving at 14?

My grandfather had a large number of fruit trees in his yard (apples, figs, pears, etc.), which required a fair amount of weaving.  In one of my passes, I turned without realizing how close I was one of his trees, and that’s when I froze up at the wheel.

Distance to tree: 3 feet

(inner voice) Um, turning would be good now.  Any time.

Distance to tree: 2 feet

(inner voice, annoyed) Dude, do you see that tree rushing towards you at high speed?!?

Distance to tree: 1 foot

(inner voice, now quite irate) WAKE UP!!!!!!!

I disengaged the clutch, and almost immediately came to a stop.

Distance to tree – 2 inches

The mower’s running and I’m standing on the clutch, afraid to move.  After a few seconds – REAL seconds this time – I shifted to neutral so I could let the clutch go.  My leg was starting to tremble as the adrenaline left my system.  After a few more seconds, I backed the mower up, and kept going.

Naturally, I never told anyone about this until now.  My parents probably wouldn’t have let me get my license at 16 if I had.

***

This past spring, CJ moved a couple of mats to the front sidewalk, hosed them down, and left them there to dry.  Now, the easiest way to get to a particular patch of my front lawn was to push the mower over this particular piece of sidewalk.  The mats were only about half an inch thick, so I didn’t think there would be any problems if I just mowed right over them on my way to the grass.

That worked for the first mat, which happened to be the heavier of the two.  It stayed on the ground.  The second mat?  Yeah, not so much.  It wasn’t as heavy, so when the mower got directly over it, the convection current set up by the blades literally sucked the mat up, violently shredding it.

Oops.

***

Perhaps this just comes down to avoiding power tools on wheels.  Ok, CJ, no street-sweepers, bulldozers, or Zambonis for me.

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