May 12

A Reel Delight!

A Reel Delight!
Often, I consult with close family members and friends before making a significant purchase. I want to make good decisions, not waste money.

But a little over a week ago, perhaps two weeks ago, it became clear (long story) that I would need a lawn mower.

I did broach the topic with a friend, wondering aloud if it would be any easier to use a reel mower than a scythe. I have a scythe, and I know how to use it.

Her response was that I would be more likely to get help if I had a reel mower. I heard that as meaning that if I used my scythe I would only and forever do the mowing. If I used a reel mower, there might be a 0.0001% chance someone might mow for me. Once.

Since 0.0001 is greater than zero, I decided to research reel mowers.

These are the mowers that use neither electricity nor petroleum. Mine would run on organic nuts, fair trade chocolate, and kombucha.

I’ll cut to the chase (get it? cut?) – I found that Fiskars makes them, and they have received very good reviews.

There are caveats – not every lawn or every person is a good fit. But from the descriptions I read, I had a perfect fit – reasonably healthy person who enjoys a little workout (and is too cheap to join a gym), nearly level lawn, not very bumpy or stony, nor strewn with inch-thick sticks.

And in my case, since I won’t have access to an electrical plug where I need to mow, and refuse to purchase a petroleum-powered mower (stink, maintenance, $$ for gas oil and repairs, climate change, oil spills, making rich people richer yeah I am a snob like that), reel mowers make all kinds of sense.

What I did not do before purchasing this machine, as I wrote early on, is consult with anyone else. And, my beloveds, here is why: I was about 99% sure that I would hear, more than once, that they are hard to push, that a skinny little twig will stop them cold, that they must be sharpened constantly, that they won’t work if the grass is too tall, which will be most of the time. My suspicions have been confirmed by a few people I spoke to after I ordered the mower but before I used it for the first time. Guess what I was told?

Two days ago I picked up this beautiful machine. In twenty minutes I assembled it with an 11 mm wrench. The 20 minutes includes the 5 minutes I spent disassembling and reassembling the handle after misinterpreting the drawing showing how it’s put together.

In 20 more minutes I had half the job done, and was about out of time. And that 20 minutes included pausing to grin, place my hands on my hips and say out loud, “wow! Hot diggety! Wow! Sweet! Oh, mercy, this thing works like a dream! Lookit that!” These outbursts probably amused passersby, I don’t know.

And of course it included noodling with the adjustment for cut height – half inch increments from one inch to four inches.

I estimate I covered about 2000 square feet or so. Not much to mow, really.

This morning I cut the rest of the lawn, another 1800 square feet or so, with many more obstacles – two trees, a couple of sign posts, an electric meter.

The weather was bright, sunny and 75F, both times. I perspired just a tad. No, really, just a little bit, just enough to get salty skin. The heat I felt was on my face, from the sunshine. This time I spent less time in awe, but just as much time in bliss.

Several times this past week, I have come across the numbers on how much petroleum is used in landscaping and lawn care. Here, take a look: http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/fuels.html

For those already tired of reading, this is from the article - Yale University has estimated that the United States uses more than 600 million gallons of gas to mow and trim lawns each year .

When you consider other landscaping projects, the numbers really add up. Cough. Cough.

While I undertook this responsibility with a tiny bit of resistance due to my already full schedule, my payoff for doing this will be more than worth it for many reasons, most of which are not detailed here.

But the mowing, my main reason for resistance, has become one of the payoffs. I love this machine! I love that it enables me to keep the lawn looking 21st-century-middle-class-American-standard respectable as I nurture the neglected landscape into abundance over the course of the next many months. I love the moderate exercise. I love the swish-snip sound, allowing me to hear other pleasant sounds from the birds and the breeze, and the children playing nearby. I love that what I smell is cut grass, that I will need to have the blades sharpened perhaps once a year. I love that it weighs about the same as a sack of sawdust pellets, an easy 35 pounds or so.

Perhaps, like many in my family, I will name it. Oriole, perhaps.