Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 6:53 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
There’s one thing I’ve learned about this beautiful area of the country. People take their mowing seriously. Very seriously. I call our county the “land of extreme mowing.” It’s evident when you drive down roads and streets and see people out mowing grass that MAY be half an inch high. They feel a “need” to take it down to a quarter inch. Several times I’ve wanted to yell out the car window, “Hey Mister, how can you even tell where you’ve MOWED?” Sometimes it becomes a tad competitive. Ms. Eula has her grass cut to a half inch. Neighbor Jim takes his down to a quarter. Occasionally, it gets out of hand and that’s when you drive by and see dirt flying through the air ... the “shaved” look.
The Smartt family has failed at the mowing obsession. Failed miserably. In fact, we’ve sadly gone the other direction. We should have known we were in trouble when the locals made the following comments after we bought our beautiful place in the country. “Lawsy, that’s a lot of mowing.” “It’ll be a full-time job just to take care of that yard.” “Why, that place is gonna work you to death.”
Newsflash. It hasn’t worked us to death. Not even close. We enjoy sitting on the front porch and drinking sweet tea ... even if there are a few weeds in the flower bed or the grass has gotten tall. In fact, every time we think about weed-eating, we put on a pot of coffee and sit on the front porch until weed-eating flies clear out of our minds. I know. It’s a gift. We have an innate ability to ignore poor lawn care. It’s a good thing we live “out” from town.
Town dwelling can be problematic for those with a more laid back mowing philosophy. Ever come home to find your lawn freshly mowed by the neighbor? This could mean one of two things. One, your neighbor is wonderful and he knows you’ve been busy so he decided to bless you by mowing your yard. I hate to share the second option with you. But there’s a distinct possibility that everyone in the neighborhood has been irritated by your lax view of lawn care. Truth is, they had a secret neighborhood meeting late one night (Yes, Florence brought her spinach dip and Hawaiian bread) and they nominated your next door neighbor, Bob, to mow your yard. I know. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Don’t feel alone. Recently, our mower died. We couldn’t accept it at first. So we ignored the growing grass. Then we ignored it some more. Eventually, the neighbors down the road started picking up our mail believing we must be on an extended European vacation. That’s when we had to do something drastic. Some friends offered to let us use their mower. My husband was disabled with a toothache at the time. I assured him I could hook up the trailer and drive to “town” to get the mower. His face turned pale and in a toothache mumble he said, “Lisa, you’ve never pulled a trailer. Be careful. Don’t get in a situation where you have to back up.”
“Oh Honey, stop worrying. How hard could it be?” Famous last words. I’ll save the trailer story for my therapist. Thankfully, by this time, our grass was long enough to cut and bale. Some folks think we’re slackers. Are you kidding? The square bales are selling for $4 in our front yard. We saved money on gasoline. We only have to mow once a summer. We’re livin’ the American dream.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 6.25.08
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View