Saturday, November 14, 2015

A mowing I would never forget

Surely the Push Reel Lawnmower

(Reprinted from VULCAN WEATHERVANES 1980)


Our centerfold for the month of August
in this our maiden issue
is an old friend of mine,
Surely the Push Reel Lawnmover.

She was recently discovered
in the cob-webby basement stairwell
of our old family home
where I grew up on Waukesha's Arcadian Avenue
and to which I've returned to live
earlier this year.

Surely and I went around together
in my youth when it was my job
to mow my grandmother's lawn.

I always had a lot of respect for Surely,
although there were moments of antagonism
when I was forced to take her out
against my will.

That was before I felt old enough for her.

I came upon her in the basement hide-away not long ago
  and we struck up an immediate conversation,
even though it had been years since we'd seen
each other,

in fact years since Surely had seen anyone
due to the advent of the easy and fast
gasoline-powered younger models out there.

I was up-front with her right away
and owned that I too had taken to the grasses
with these brash and noisy sirens
but I also told her that there had always
been something missing.

It was just going through the motions with them.
I never had the feeling  that I was in control
of anything, walking along subserviently,
havng little input and more than once 
actually getting hurt.

Surely never threw anything at me in her life.

As we talked I began to fantasize
what it would be like 
to take Surely out again.

Granted, we both had some years behind us
since we tried anything together,
but I still felt capable of making her go.
Also, I mulled not merely euphemistically -

the grass wasn't getting any shorter out there.

"Listen," I began uncertainly,
"you wouldn't want to, you know,
it's been a long time and everything,
but how's chances of you and me, well,
you know...  Whadda you say?"

She got my drift immediately.

"Dave!  Wouldn't that be fun!
I could be a little rusty...
but I don't think so.
If you don't mind how I look,
Let's roll!"

I felt a wave of confidence come over me
at her enthusiasm.
That was something else I liked about Surely.
She was always ready,

not like some others I could mention
who have to be gassed up before they will do anything,
and then their exhalations make it downright unpleasant
to walk even behind them.

As uncomplimentary a term as 'cheap date' may be,
it goes far toward describing Surely.
A couple drops of machine oil 
was all she ever asked for

and if I didn't mind her squeaking a little
she didn't even ask for that.
Why did I ever let her get away?
Fuelish fuelish me.

I rolled her from her unworthy repository
beneath the basement stairs
and listened for the old purring whir-r-r.
It was still there.

Surely had few moving parts
but from where I stand today
the clip-clip-clip of Surely's blades
as they slide over the stationary cutter
is far and away more inspiring

in its simplicity and predictability
than a complicated mystery machine
you have to have a manual to understand.

A I lifted Surely gently in my arms
for the trip up to the waiting
and lush greenery beyond the door I imagined
that she began to croon 'Seems Like Old Times'.

The stairway seemed surreal and endless
as I carried Surely.
She may have put on a little dusty weight
but it didn't matter.

I couldn't wait to get her into the long  grass.

I knew I was in for a mowing
I would never forget.


[This Raccoon is dedicated
to daughter Erin and her Ben
who recently eschewed a power mower
choosing a simpler push reel mower
to use on their recently-acquired lawn.]

Ben Willard of Appleton WI
with his mower (Fnu/Lnu)


Young man likes his reel mower so much
that he takes to the grasses
even when his lawn is only dead-leafy

Or maybe in his kindness
he acquiesces to filling our request
for a Raccoon illustration
 though the day is blustery.

Because that's the kind of guy he is.