Friday, May 25, 2012

Why is it raining?

That's what I'm thinking this morning at 9:56 AM. Rain in late May in southern California is unsettling. The sky is gray and the wind is rustling through the palm fronds. Do you know what that sounds like? There's a carrot cake in the oven, the beds are made and the children are at school. I'm contemplating buying a lawn mower and making my strapping boys mow the lawn from here on out. Just like rain in late May, mowing your own lawn in southern California is an anomaly. Jesus has been doing the yard work (other than gardening) at my bungalow for nearly fifteen years -- Jesus, the gardener, practically part of the family -- probably more a part of the family than that other Jesus. Jesus has a huge business, I'm certain, and it probably won't make much difference if I up and tell him that my two strapping boys will be mowing the lawn from here on out. I'll ask him to come every month or so and do the heavier yard work -- the weed whacking, edging, the hauling of fallen palm fronds. He'll still be doing all the yard work for the big mansions and the people who can't be bothered. I remember doing yard work as a kid growing up in Atlanta. We lived in a big house with an even bigger yard. My father taught my sisters and me to mow the lawn because he had no sons. My sister and I had the mowing down to a system -- The Front Hill, The Side Yard, The Side Side, The Back, The Back Side. My father might  as well have had a whistle and a megaphone given how exacting his standards were for Mowing the Lawn. We had to go carefully around the trees and not miss any spots. We had to let the grass fly out and then rake it up, dump it in a wheelbarrow and then wheel it into the woods behind our house. We begged him to let us bag it, and to this day I don't know why he didn't let us. Sharp shards of southern green would stick to the sweat on your skin and sometimes the motor would die and you'd have to stand there and pull that damn cord over and over to re-start the engine. At one point, mowing the lawn caused me to have allergy attacks, so I got to stop doing it. My sister called them "allergy attacks," and I think she was very resentful. One day, it was snowing lightly in Atlanta in the early winter, an anomaly, just like rain in southern California in late May, and my father made her mow the lawn.  I think she swore as she cranked up the mower and my father grounded her. I wonder what the boys will do when I start making them mow the lawn? I wonder why it's raining? What would Jesus do?


  1. so much relatable here, and infinitely entertaining! we have an electric mower, FYI, and Gene slices through the cord at least once a quarter, so if you think about getting an electric (you should!) get a cordless. That's all I've got, having never mowed, but always wanting to -- my mom did ours.

  2. It's raining in California because Michigan is, quite literally, on fire.

    And I have an electric cordless mower, but it is an older one, and weighs 400 pounds and isn't self-propelled. Methinks the newer ones aren't so cumbersome. Not that I've had to mow the imitation of Death Valley that is my front yard, however, for a while.

  3. Growing up I did ours. Rider mower. Thought I was SO cool.

    I think the strapping boys mowing the lawn is an excellent idea. Might enlist my boys. However, Joe with a moving object of any kind, kinda scares me.

    Weird weather here indeed. Matches my mood.

    I sent you a text earlier. Love you my friend and your posts, which usually always make me smile.

  4. YES! I grew up in Hawaii, i miss sitting in the hammock under rustling palm fronds. It's a great sound.

    AND we had a landscaper guy named Jesus! (who was later deported, which leads me to believe that if the Jesus ever made his way to this country, we'd probably wind up deporting his ass like the bunch of compassionate geniuses we are. Ha.)

    I love mowing, even though i'm pretty sure it's not the way the good lord intended it (fertilize, water, encourage growth, AND MOW IT ALL DOWN!) Rinse and repeat.

  5. I am starting to feel like weird weather is the new norm.

    I love this... love your writing. I've told you so often but I so wish to hold actual books by you in hand. In heart. Soul.

    My husband likes to believe that his lawn cutting ( what little of it there is) is superior to mine. It's not of course. I guess I do it about a quarter of the time. My older kids are capable, but we like to think of it as a 'fun' chore so don't often delegate. We're weird like that. Now painting on the other hand... used to like it. Now. No.

    ( in those years in that house... we had a large lot and a push mower until a riding one was purchased. then the push mower was saved for the front and punishment duty, usually falling to my stepsister. why did I just remember that? oh the long and sad stories... an example where someone tried to help and of course it made things worse.)

  6. I read this while listening to the neighbor kid mow my 2.5 acres on his family's riding mower - all the while praising my husband for selling ours at last month's garage sale. In the beginning, Bubba and I used to fight over who got to mow because it guaranteed a minimum of 90 minutes of not listening to children bicker or claim boredom. Now, though, I am so looking forward to moving in to the city with my postage stamp of a lawn that I will probably hire my own Jesus to mow.

    I hope your boys enjoy mowing. My brother always saw it as some rite of passage in to manhood.

  7. i love this writing. you have such a gift. and you provoke connections, too. when my husband was growing up, his vision of being a man was to have your own lawn that you would mow and keep pristine. now he lives in apartment building in a concrete and glass city and i think he still yearns for that patch of lawn.

    i so enjoyed the image of you and your sister mowing that huge lawn. it registered in me as "these girls will undoubtedly grow up to be capable take no mess women."

    me? i weaseled out of the job in all manner of creative ways as a child. i suspect your sons would be more like me.

  8. Gosh you make me smile when I read what you write.

    We had a huge backyard, but I had 3 they got older and went off to school, my dad thought I should mow the lawn. With bag attached, and cord plugged in (how inconvenient was that to have to be careful of), off I went..never bothering to empty the bag..and then BOOM! Bag glows up, engine dies..and I'm never asked to mow the lawn again. Not so dumb of me after all, in retrospect!

    Thank you for making me smile and think. I used to live in Los Angeles, so I love when you desribe the city. Now I live in the most conservative county in Ohio. Talk about a fish out of water. Your blog is always a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much.

  9. Your father sounds just like my husband and my husband's brothers are like him too. He gets all three of the boys out in the yard and neighbors comment and he tells them that is why he had kids! Many neighbors bag their clippings and leave it to be picked up but ours don't get too tall so they are left as is. Pine straw and branches get moved to the woodish area. The boys mow the lawn starting in 5th grade. I just saw some moms at a b-day party and one lady whose husband works a lot just mentioned her husband was at home mowing the long grass and I was good and bit my lip even though she has three boys. And not a very big yard.
    Does your dad pay someone now?
    Hope the rain stops for the weekend but y'all need the rain, right?

  10. A new neighbor pulled up in her car the other day and pointed at my husband as he was mowing our lawn and asked me for the number of our yard guy. I told her that is my husband - and his coorporate travel schedule doesn't allow him to hire out for additional landscaping work.

    We are an anomaly around here too - few families do their own yard work.

  11. I had to mow too. Until we got a riding lawn mower and then only the boys mowed. I do not know why. Whatever. I didn't care. I hated mowing. There were parts of the yard that were all sandspurs and they'd kick out from the blades and stick themselves into our ankles.
    I didn't curse because I was pure back in those days when I was young. Pure like Jesus.

  12. I had to mow as well -- but I got paid for it. ($5 for the front yard, same for the back.) Maybe I shouldn't say that on your blog or your kids will get ideas. :)

  13. So vivid and funny, and you bring back lots of memories about kids and yards, the various rules and regulations regarding mowing/weeding/clipping/raking/hauling, etc. Ugh.Ugh. Ugh. This is why I live on a houseboat.



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