A widow learns to mow again . . . the hard way


Sometimes it’s best to leave the hard stuff to those who do it for a living.

In widowhood I am fast becoming the comic relief for the neighborhood. It’s my Craftsman riding lawnmower’s fault.

My late husband always insisted on being the operator of all things with belts, blades and horsepower. The last few years he did hire a man to mow the yard, as his illness and medications made exertion in the sun a no-no. And I’ve kept Randy on this summer too.

But that leaves a fairly new riding mower and a brand new self propelled mower in the shed, forlorn and unused. So when Randy called and said he was down in the back, I almost rubbed my hands in glee because I could once again climb behind the wheel of my own little amusement ride.

But wait! I seem to have forgotten a few things in a several year hiatus from that outdoor chore. In my haste to see if I could even remember how to start it I forgot to check the gas. No wonder it wouldn’t rumble to life. (And don’t tell anybody, but I also forgot the capital rule about picking up downed branches before even climbing on the machine.)

Once filled with petrol, I backed out of the shed and got her going (note the use of the feminine pronoun when referring to machinery). She purred along in second gear until my memory got jump started. So far, so good. I kicked it up into the number three slot and whizzed along a little faster. But then I got to the part of the yard that slopes down into a French drain on one side with a concrete tree ring on the other side, with said mower’s girth a little too much to navigate without making me feel like I was going to fall over sideways. I leaned the opposite way and made plans to jump off if necessary but my own substantial weight kept me in the seat. I only shook a little after that.

Bravely I descended into the lower yard at the foot of the French drain swell and mowed down there. On the way there I noticed slosh-able water standing in the yard and mentally filed that for future fear time.

It did not take long for the reminder of how wet it was to come back to haunt the inexperienced mower person. I did have to get up that hill to mow the front yard and then to put the machine away. Well, that little process took me five or six tries, with the only result being my own personal mudathon. That machine was not going to climb a now muddy hill from any angle.

Operator turns off machine and goes to the garage for two large pieces of cardboard. They do not prove successful in two more tries.

Finally, I back the mower up clear across the yard, put it in sixth gear, pop a wheelie (well, close to one, according to my neck) and pull that sucker up the hill.

When I had dinner this evening with a few neighbors, the only male in our little group said he saw me using the mower in the front yard and noted that my husband used to mow a lot faster than I do.

Well, so what! I am a grandmother, okay? Grandmas use granny gear.

But then I asked this man, who used to be a distributor for a well known line of power equipment, if he could suggest why my brand new self propelled mower would not start he asked, “Did you drain the gas out of it for the winter?”

Now why would I waste gas? Besides, it was in a pretty air tight shed all winter.

“The carburetor is gummed up,” he explained to the clueless female pretend power machine operator.

Randy is coming to mow tomorrow. Maybe he can un-gum the carburetor after he goes over all the spots I missed on the rider. I’ve decided this is not a task for sissy Grandmas. He can have all the fun from now on.