Doing the Math

I don’t know how many total hours in my 58 years that I have spent mowing grass.

I don’t want to know.

I could do the math, beginning with weekly seasonal mowing of my home lawn in North Carolina. Add to that two neighbors’ yards in my teens. Then add to that sum the summers after my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college when I was the “groundskeeper” for Cedar Cove Condominiums, a fancy title for mowing the grass, trimming bushes, pulling weeds from plant beds, and cleaning the swimming pool.

I clearly recall that I spent 11 hours of each week behind a Sears Craftsman push mower.

As a newlywed I got a brief break from mowing when Dorrie and I lived for a year in an apartment before moving to our first home with a big front yard. Then we lived for nine years in south Florida where St. Augustine grass thrives 52 weeks a year.

Zen Mowing

In our subsequent moves and homes, I largely held onto the mowing duties, despite having two sons. Not being much of a handyman around the house, manning the lawn probably helped me retain some sense of fulfilling my husbandly duties. Plus, there was something about mowing a finite lawn, starting with doing the edges as if putting together the frame of a jigsaw puzzle, and filling it in by cutting the grass row by row until the completed picture was an evenly trimmed green carpet.

In my work as a pastor and a counselor there was rarely a sense of clear beginnings and endings because people are always in process and ministry is never finished. Mowing the lawn offered a clear starting place and ending point with immediate and visual feedback of progress along the way.

Welcome to Mow’s

I have wondered, however, what a person from a third world country visiting a typical neighborhood in suburbia, USA in the early summer would think as they observed someone mowing their lawn.

Visitor: What are these plants that you are harvesting?

Homeowner: Plants? Oh this? This is just grass with a lot of weeds thrown in.

Visitor: I see all the other farmers in your village are growing the same crop.

Homeowner: Farmers?

Visitor: Yes, and I see your neighbor over there is harvesting too. Do most of the farmers harvest every Saturday?

Homeowner: I usually mow on Saturday if that’s what you mean.

Visitor: If you harvest on Saturday what day do you take your crop to market?

Homeowner:We don’t take this to the market.

Visitor: Oh, I see; each family in the village grows their own food in their tiny field.

Homeowner: Wait, do you think we grow grass and eat it??

Visitor: Certainly, why else would you work so hard to grow and harvest a crop if you don’t eat
it. If you don’t sell it and don’t eat it, what do you do with it?

Homeowner: We don’t DO anything with it. We just cut it. And then we rake it up and put in
large bags and throw it away.

Visitor: So, you are actually growing garbage so you can throw it away? Do you not have
enough trash without planting and growing more trash?

Homeowner: We’re not growing trash. Listen, every year our nation spends billions of dollars
for lawncare. We buy mowers and trimmers, gasoline and oil, grass seed and fertilizers, weed
and insect killers, aerators and de-thatchers, hoses and sprinkler systems so our lawns will be
green and lush.

Visitor: So, you can cut it?

Homeowner: Right.

Visitor: And cut it again, over and over, week after week, month after month, year after year?

Homeowner: Yes. What’s your point?

Visitor: Tell me what other strange and amusing customs you have here in America.

Homeowner:: Well, have you heard of college football?

Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at
ramonpresson@gmail.com.