My kind of lawnmower

When I was little, my nickname within our family was Piglet Moon. At one point it was lengthened to Piglet Moon Who Likes to Help Daddy with the Grass. Not that I actually went by that name on a daily basis – I’m not sure whether anyone actually called me Piglet Moon very much. But I was at that age when children actually do enjoy helping with house and yard work.

Daddy used an electric mower, which to me was loud and kind of scary. I think anything loud was scary to me at that age – I was particularly scared of some public toilets that flushed very loudly. I probably also had absorbed some of my mother’s fear of what could happen if something went wrong with powered tools and appliances. I do remember at least once that my father ran over the mower’s electric cord while mowing and sliced it in two. I wasn’t sure whether one could be electrocuted that way, but I didn’t want to find out.

When I was big enough to push a mower, I decided to haul the old reel mower out of the garage. It hadn’t been used in a long time and it was probably a bit rusty, but it did cut grass, as long as the grass wasn’t too high. And there was no noise, and no cord to worry about. Eventually I also learned to use the electric mower, and discovered it wasn’t so scary. But I retained a liking for the quiet and simplicity of the reel mower.

My husband wasn’t interested in either of those choices. When we bought our first house, we bought a gas-powered mower. Even noisier than the electric mower, and now I had to learn how to start it as well, and add gas when it needed it. I reluctantly learned how to use it, but I never liked it.

We’ve had a few other mowers since then, all gas-powered. I haven’t had to mow the grass much in recent years, with two sons old enough to do it. But one son just moved out this week, into his own apartment near his first full-time job. And the mower, I learned, needs repairs.

We looked at Menards to see if they had the part we would need (no, they said to contact the manufacturer). But while we were there, I looked at the reel mowers. I’ve been wanting one for years, but had been reluctant to buy a new one when we already had a working lawnmower. I thought if I found one used I might buy it, but they don’t exactly pop up in yard sales every day.

We didn’t buy the mower, but I kept thinking about it. And Friday I went out and bought it, on sale at the end of the season. Yesterday afternoon we were busy helping our son move more of his stuff to his apartment. But today I finally had a chance to try out my mower.

It advertised no-tool assembly, and that went well enough once I finally figured out the instructions. (I once considered looking for work as a technical writer. I’m sure I could write better user guides than most of what’s out there.) Finally I was able to roll it out into the yard to see if it was as pleasant to use as I remembered from forty years ago.

Better, probably, since it is in new condition – no rust, sharp blades, and probably a more ergonomic design than my father’s old mower. It didn’t do well on some of the taller weeds (though to be fair, the power mower doesn’t always get those either), or on the tallest, thickest grass. And since the lawn had been needing to be mowed for well over a week, I had to go back and forth over some areas several times.

But I love the soft whirring sound of my mower. I like knowing that I am burning calories instead of gasoline. I like not having to hold the lever or bar that keeps a gas mower powered on and sends its vibrations through my arms, and not having to worry about being able to restart it after stopping to pick up sticks I had missed.

I do have to be more careful to pick up all the sticks. I lost track of how many times the mower stopped spinning, and I had to find the stick that was in the way. (With the grass as tall as it was, a lot of them were hiding even when I thought I had picked them all up.) But I don’t mind, because it’s my kind of mower.

We’ll get the gas mower fixed. I don’t expect to be doing all or even most of the mowing. But if I see the grass needing mowing, and decide I want to do it, it’s nice having the kind of machine I am comfortable with to do it.


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