Monday, April 5, 2010

Me and Betsey

I don't do lawns. There are many jobs I have tackled to prove that I am a strong, capable woman, but lawn mowing has never been one of them. Growing up my brothers mowed the lawn, after I married my husband mowed the lawn, and after he died the lawn took on a life of its own. Because who the heck was going to mow it now??

This was a very serious dilemma after Phil died, and whenever I thought about lawn maintenance I was stomping mad at him for dying! This isn't one of those jobs you can just get done once, it is an ongoing problem. First I called a gardener. The estimate for the front only was affordable, but the price for the front and back was more than I could justify. There were no available neighborhood kids, my boys didn't know anymore than I did about how to use the lawn mower, and the person who was supposed to teach them was permanently unavailable. So the lawn grew. And it grew. And it grew until the widow in the office felt she was living in a forest. So I told myself, "This is not rocket science, get out and mow the damn thing."

First I stood over the red lawn mower and tried to figure out how the starter worked...and where the gas went. I walked around it in circles like a hunter evaluating her prey. I don't know why I felt I had to pounce on it, but I imagined it running away from me for some reason. After much to and fro, a few trips to my computer for tips, a grudging call to my brother for another walk through of the instructions, and several false starts I finally got the machine started. Then it promptly died. At this point I am already sweaty, extremely frustrated, and in tears. I cursed at the stupid red mower and sat on the concrete crying. Damn Phil for dying, and yes, I know that is a terrible thing to say. It wasn't the worst of it I can assure you.

After another self pep talk about all the things I could do, and how this can't be that hard, and the fact that if I didn't mow the lawn it may consume the house I stepped up to the lawn mower again, and this time I had a talk with it. I said something along the lines of, "Look, can you give me a break? My husabnd is supposed to be doing this, but he is dead and I have no idea what I am doing." Then I decided my lawn mower is a girl, and I named her Betsey.

Betsey and I tackled the lawn forest. Every time she died, I revived her. As each row of grass was felled by Betsey's blades I grew more confident in my approach of the next row. Some parts of the lawn went down easily, for others I had to put Betsey up on her two back wheels and use her more like a machete. She never failed me, that girl is tough. By the end of the mowing experience I was dripping sweat, covered in grass clippings (who knew there was a catcher?), exhausted from the effort needed to maneuver Betsey through more grass rows than I could count, and as I cut the last row--completely elated. I conquered the lawn forest, and proved to myself that I am even capable of mowing the lawn. Then I sat down beside my new friend and had a beer.


  1. Have to laugh that the lawn is a common widow's nemesis, apparently. ;o) I, too, HATE mowing the lawn after Charley died. The part I still don't like is that it's not a once-and-you're-done event to tackle. No, no: you have to keep doing it. Over and over and over and....And 99 times out of 100, it makes me very pissy at Charley for dying on me and leaving me with lawn duties...even after almost 5 years. Where are the neighborhood boys to hire when you want 'em?

    [Raising a beer to ol' Betsey too. ;o))

  2. Jerry in MissouriApril 6, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    Glad I read this, just as I am heading out to tackle the grass for the first time this season! Thanks for the light hearted laugh I needed as I tackle lawn mowing number #1 of 2010!
    P.S. I never thought of the beer - maybe that's the trick?! ;)