Start you bastard!!! I screamed at the cursed ball of metal that had finally won the mind game against mowing the law. Or, as I texted to a mate at a rapidity that motivated the spell checker to have one final dig:
Now the opening AFL bounce is under a week away, the motifs of autumn begin to raise bubbles across the senses. But its the smell of turf that best captures that foray into the joy of the new season. An entrancing aroma of slightly moist grass, and rich loam released by the rupture of stops that travels to the back of the first level of most AFL grounds. If the air is crisp and frosty, it may slumber up the stairs to snuggle round the nostrils of the less flush upper decks.
You can stare in wonder at the tartan inspired patterns embedded through the field. I have a near neighbour who obessively mows his lawn every 3 days to maintain this effect. His blades are set too low, the grass has no spring and mostly it looks dead. Sometimes if the binoculars are handy you can watch him smoke the clippings. But not here at the MCG, here the art of mowing is lifted to a transcendence delivering us a canvas upon which our hopes are painted. A four peat no less up for grabs.
Yet my earnest sentiments are totally at odds with my own mowing history. Sold as a task to you while young as being “good for you”, the con is complete once the assessment arrives that I am still the low fruit thinking degenerate I was when at the peak of teenage victa pushing years despite a life time of pushing a four stroke.
You see, I have a midas touch in reverse when it comes to lawn mowers. I’ve had about 8 and the scoreboard is currently 6 (Me) – 2 (Others) guilty of mower death, generally as a result of a strain of masculine ineptitude that – as gleamed through fact finding conversation – doesnt seem to happen to many other men.
The most bizzare death occured out of goodwill. A traveller appeared home one day down on his luck looking for money. The “homeless dude” as my partner described him. He could tell the rebuttal was coming and his cat like mind zeroed in on the triangular crossfire of my bad hip (crutches), the long lawn length, and “work”. I accepted despite a voice in my head that some people hear before postphoning their flight on a ill fated journey. Looks like he’d shaved his head down the middle in a DIY mohawk fashion. That the lines were out of parallel should have been the omen for the loud explosion that blew me back into the diosma as I stepped out to instruct him to turn down the revs. Just before the anti terrorism cops arrived there was a mutual moment between us as we looked upon my mower’s engine in “exploded view” just like in an engineering textbook. Once the fumes cleared him back into personal reality, he scampered. He turned up a couple of days later looking for his pay, which I had already drunk away whilst flicking through Bunnings catalouges.
Perhaps I was cursed by my late mum’s own watershed 4 stroke moment when incomprehensibly she put her hand under the blades to “see if the mower was going”. Despite never missing a subsequent beat in the administered backhander department, her nail was split to the quick for the rest of her days.
Only recently, I’ve just seen off another mower. Generally its because of a design fault that my particular style seems to play to. This one was the rope thing you pull to start it. Somehow it emerged one day from a start up with its skirt tucked into its nickers. I got it fixed. It happened again the mow after just prior to that flushed self satisfied glow you get at jobs end that you are keeping your yard tidy. I learnt to live with it’s idiosyncracies because I “put up with things”. Then the front wheel housing – made from “quality steel” aka die cast composite metal (the mincemeat of framing)” cracked requiring you to both pull and push the recalcitrant up and down your unwielding Kentucky blue. Started spitting out shrapnel. The type you feel before you hear it. In the guts, knee, top of the eye, earlobe – all the soft bits that even low velocity creates a wince and involuntary curse.
This mower was to be the great green hope. The previous mower also had a design fault that I unwittingly was destined to be exploited by. What I know about the combustion engine could be written on a blade of grass however the connection between the mower’s “accelerator” and the “carbie” is usually the weakest and most easily bent wire and spring commerically available. You dive under a low branch, it gets bent out of shape. Then it wont start. You rest. Get Going, bend the little wire, stall. Rest, restart, continue interspersed with more “Gucks” and “Bunts”
Whilst between mowers once, I borrowed my father in laws mower, himself an impeccible maintainer of yard equipment. He offered. I told him my history. Even for his Irish sensiblity, this was pure imagination. A $150 dollars repair bill later and the craic has gone out of the transaction.
I also learnt early myself not to lend your mower. Particularly to someone even unluckier than you with combustion engines. So despite my mate writing off his van while it communicated with freelance cows on a moonlit highway, I lent him my robust 4 stroke to tame his springtime one metre high paddock whose maintance had got away from him while grieving (and listening to long playing records) for his van. Old hands among us will lecture that such a job requires two passes. One blade up to fell the taller timbers followed by retracking your steps with the blade down to finish the job. The catcher should be removed and a rake nearby so youre not refunding your fresh cuts. Of course it was returned totally gucked as the bunt had completed an acre on high revs with scant regard for the time honoured two pass system along with a lack of diligence with monitoring the oil. Coupla days later, it blew up as I was part way through whistling the first verse of “Let the sunshine in.
Just picked up a new one. I collect my 50 cent pieces from my change for just such an occurance. Every 3 years I’ve got enough for a new mower. Real bare foot investor stuff. This one is yellow, not red. Yellow is the color of the mind and the intellect. It is optimistic and cheerful. However it can also suggest impatience, criticism and cowardice – I give this one a year before this kicks in.
Have a great season!