By some fluke of chaotic coincidence, light from the morning sun barely peaking over the Wasatch ridgelines glinted off the reflecting white octagonal Stop sign tape and flashed at an acute angle through the open blinds of my bedroom window and projected onto my closet doors shifting prismatic flickers, quite beautiful and striking, creating one of those moments when ask myself, not without gratitude and awe, What are the odds? and I answer, There are no odds, because that phenomenon simply should not have happened, but it did. And only I saw. Just imagine: trillions of such impossibilities happen spontaneously in nature every day somewhere on our miracle globe. I left for work and hefted throughout the day Dad’s anxiety about thatching and fertilizing the lawn before Thursday’s snow and rain, and I arrived at home with bags of crabgrass-killing fertilizer, costing an obscene $100 for a single application and stinking up my car and causing me to choke with real or imagined chemical fumes. But before I could fertilize, we needed to race the mower over the lawn, the blade set low, to suck up all the thatch and pine needles. “Dad, are you up to it?” Of course, he wasn’t. But I bundled him into his power chair anyway, after Mom rebandaged the six-inch S-curve stitched incision on the top of his head and covered the bandage with a spacious straw hat. But the hat’s brim and the chair’s headrest conflicted—will the indignities never end?—so I quickly allen-wrenched the headrest out of the way, and out the front door he went. Dad transferred from the chair to the lawn mower with great difficulty and with noisy lifting and heaving and shoving from me. This mower was not designed for 87-year-old paraplegics. With fresh gasoline, thankfully, the mower started up, and off Dad drove. Dinner would have to be made, so I rushed into the kitchen to put the meat in the oven and start the squash to steaming, listening for the moving mower and watching Dad through the open shutters of the kitchen windows as he zoomed contentedly back and forth, filling both bags with dead grass and pine needles and dust. Finished, he pulled up to the garage and killed the motor while I emptied the dusty bags. But the mower would not start again. Examining the engine, I found that one of the battery leads was corroded and encrusted, and the red wire had snapped off its lead. This mower was not going to start, though I had scraped the encrustation off and touched the wire to the lead. Nope—this mower was dead, and Dad would have to call the service center, again, to have them come pick it up. I lead the way up the ramps and into the house, frustrated at the entropy that breaks everything down, frustrated that I could not fix the mower but had bruised my knuckles trying. Dad suspiciously did not come through the front door, and, checking on him, I found him stuck where he had cut a corner too sharply and had sunk the central wheel into the mud. “I fell in a hole,” he said sheepishly with a dubious grin. I yanked the chair out, and he left a muddy trail up the ramp and through the door and across the floor to his recliner. A chop stick cleaned the treads. A broom swept up the drying dirt. And I backed the chair, which had done a fine job and was not responsible for the wreck, cautiously into its dark corner in Dad’s office.
Tag Archives: Lawn Care
Courage at Twilight: Lawn Care
Dad keeps his lawn green and trimmed and mowed. The lawn gets nourished monthly with the correct kind of fertilizer, and enjoys a haircut twice a week. Donning a straw hat against the sun and potential skin cancer, he drives his red riding mower, curving around the beds of bushes and flowers, happy to be in the saddle. A neighbor commented, “Nelson, you are the most determined man I’ve ever seen in caring for a yard.” One Friday night in spring, Dad asked me if I would fertilize the lawn first thing Saturday morning so that the coming snow would dissolve the fertilizer into the turf. Come morning, however, the lawn was buried in four inches of heavy wet snow. Not wanting Dad to be disappointed, I ventured to push the spreader anyway. With two wheels on the “ground” the spreader merely pushed against the snow. But with one wheel on the ground—the wheel geared to the spreader—and the other elevated, I made good progress. It is often hard to see where one has fertilized because the spreader swath is three feet on either side, and I lose track of where I’ve been. I did not have this problem now because the fertilizer sat on the surface of the snow. Unfortunately, the grains of this particular fertilizer were yellow, and now Dad’s entire yard was covered with yellow snow. Dad was astonished, having never seen fertilized snow. He commented, “Roger—it looks like the whole lawn was trampled by peeing deer.” Indeed, deer are frequent visitors, eating down spring’s lily shoots. Just yesterday I watched a nearby mule deer doe watching Dad as he string trimmed. Now, at summer’s end, the grass is green green. Dad cut the grass again last night. Now it’s my turn to do my job: take the push mower around the places where the riding mower can’t easily maneuver. And empty the bags of cut grass.