I spent a good chunk of this afternoon engaged in the ab-twisting, fat-jiggling, nut-shucking twice-weekly endeavor otherwise known as mowing the lawn. I use those carefully chosen modifiers to describe the experience of driving a lawn tractor over a prolific crop of walnuts provided by our particularly fertile forest, umm…grove, well actually – pair of walnut trees likely approaching 50 years of age and apparently in the prime of their lives.
Seeing a lawn at least eight days past its due date for mowing I couldn’t stomach the thought of spending three hours to first rake and/or pick up all of the walnuts that had fallen since last the lawn was mowed. That would be twelve days ago, but who’s counting? Plus, I had to tighten up my mowing pattern to double cut the seven inch long grass and avoid leaving clumps instead of mulched grass blades all over the place. I reasoned that mechanically shucking the walnuts by driving over them would make them easier to rake later, assuming the squirrels hold up their end of the bargain and bury or eat a few before I get to them.
While shaking off a few pounds I began pondering why I choose to put myself through this lawn mowing process for 7 to 8 months each year. At an hour a piece, and an average of three times every two weeks, by my reckoning that works out to about 40-45 hours per year; maybe even fifty if you believe global warming is impacting Michigan weather. That’s a lot of time to spend just mowing a lawn. Then there’s the weeding and mulching of flowerbeds, several thousand square feet of them, fertilizing the whole yard including shrubs and trees, pruning, planting, and winterizing; ow, my head hurts just thinking about how much time it takes to care for a yard.
What was I doing last week at this time? Spending time with my grandchildren examining little shells, watching shore birds, listening to the surf, finding little minnows in a stream, climbing rocks, having deep conversations with my three year old granddaughter; engaging in activities that remind me of the wonder I found in so many things when I was young. I spent some of those hours playing a fishing game with Lil C using a tiny fishing pole to snatch fish from the spinning “roundy-thing”. We built a wooden train layout involving, as I understand it, “uppy-pieces” to get the trains over the bridge across the lower tracks. I got to push E around on a little scooter in the back yard, and let him do backflips off my chest. I got to soothe my sick granddaughter by rubbing her back while she watched TV in misery. I got to have some good business conversation with my son-in-law, and watch my daughter be a great mommy and wife to her family. I got to experience wonder again, something that mostly passes us older folks by.
It’s a whole lot of work and love to raise a family. It’s a lot of work and a little bit of love to keep a nice yard. The thing is, my throat doesn’t tighten and the tears don’t well up when I park my tractor at the end of the day. It does and they do when I park that rental car in the airport lot.
Shucking walnuts and wondering…Pops