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Front Page » April 18, 2006 » Opinion » A Simple Philosophy Of Lawn Equipment
Published 3,089 days ago

A Simple Philosophy Of Lawn Equipment


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Spring is a time of new beginnings. Plants begin to sprout from the ground, people clean their houses and do fix ups, and young graduates find themselves facing a new world of unknowns.

Yeah, and the lawn needs mowing again after many months of lying dormant.

While officially spring began last month, the wet and cold weather has pretty much precluded me from having to contend with the green stuff that is planted around my house. But this past weekend that changed. A rain storm last week, combined with sudden warm temperatures, took my dog urine colored lawn into new heights of chartreuse growth.

When you hear people say "It's a jungle out there" they are talking specifically about my lawn.

But contending with rapid spring growth in my yard is the smallest part of the problem that I face. The biggest obstacle I have each spring is dealing with that often abstinent piece of equipment called a lawn mower.

Now many people take great pride in their lawn mowers. Some spend thousands of dollars on a ride mower so that they can mow their 20' x 30' foot section of sod. Others spend hundreds of dollars on powerful self propelled walk behinds. Each of these kinds of people spend hours getting their mowers ready for the growing season, doing things like checking carburetors, adjusting cutting height, changing oil and of course sharpening the blades, so that grass is actually sheered off by one small spin of the machine.

I have a different philosophy on lawn mowers than any of these people.

My motto is "Chop till it drops." With this well tuned, and might I say, time proven method of lawn mower protocol, I do absolutely nothing to my lawn mower, other than what is absolutely necessary to keep the blade turning. I park it in the fall and hope like hell it starts again in the spring; and if it doesn't a little starter fluid shot in the broken air cleaner housing usually does the job.

So each year when I face that dirt covered monstrosity in the barn where it has resided all winter gathering dust generated by the pigs and goats scurrying by, I am never sure what will happen. This past weekend I relived that spring ritual once again.

I pulled the machine from its dreary circumstances out into the warm sun on Easter morning. I filled it with fresh fuel. But don't get me wrong; I didn't bother to drain out the sludge that was left from last year either. I then pumped the little red button that primes the carb and pulled hard on the starting rope. It broke and I found myself laying on the grass, right where the house dogs had decided to take care of their business that morning.

As I took apart the top of the motor to rehook the pull handle, I of course found the dilemma of all who must tackle that task. It is the simple situation that human beings do not have four hands to hold all the parts together while trying to keep the thing wound straight. Despite my best efforts to screw things up and despite the rope being shorter than before, when I did get it back together, it did turn the engine over.

Of course, that's all it did. It didn't cause it to start, or at least not for awhile. Eventually the engine did cough to life, after numerous false starts when it revved high and then died.

I then began to mow the lawn.

Well maybe mow is less than an accurate description of what the machine was doing. Remember those people who sharpen their machines blades regularly? To be truthful, I don't. My lawn mowers blades still have the original edge they did when I bought it for $99.95 five years ago. I would guess instead of mowing, my lawn machine more like bludgeons the grass. But there is an advantage to that.

Everyone who has ever pushed a walk behind has hit a sprinkler, rock, dirt hill, brick or large dog toy at some point in their mowing exploits. This usually kills the mowers engine and puts a good dent in the blade. This actually happens to me four or five times during each lawn adventure. By not sharpening the blades, I never have to look at the damage done to the cutting edge. What you don't know, can't hurt you.

So as an hour and fifteen minutes passed, I pushed old leaves from one spot to another, cleaved off lawn that had grown six inches in the last three days, walked through inordinate amounts of dog dung placed there not only by my dogs over the long winter, but by many considerate neighbor dogs which come to my yard for friendly visits with my cats and to eat my dogs food. I also chewed up six pet toys, found that set of keys to my car that I had lost in November (or should I say I picked up the pieces after they had passed through the lawn mower), hit a piece of Styrofoam that had blown into the yard and created hundreds of new pieces of Styrofoam, and tore a sprinkler hose hidden under a pile of plum tree leaves into three pieces as it wrapped itself around the blade, which I now had to look at to remove the torn up plastic tubing.

After seeing what was attached to the mowers engine, that evening, I went and bought a new lawn mower.

Some things are just too frightening to see.


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April 18, 2006
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