It’s twilight on a summer’s night and the shadows are long. Within the hour fireflies will start ascending from the grass. I jump on the lawnmower and turn the key. The seat vibrates as the engine comes to life and I let the machine rev for a minute or two. As I look out at the lawn, I create my plan of attack.
By sundown, the lawn is one length of varying shades of green, linear patterns. I have little bits of grass stuck to my socks and shins, I have a smudge of dirt on my forehead. The fireflies start flashing in the darker corners of the yard and the simple sweet smell of cut grass lingers over the house until morning.
Welcome to my lawn-mowing fantasy. I’m a simple person. Just let me cut your yard and I’m content.
When I first moved to upstate NY, I would mow my grandparent’s yard occasionally. Most of it was done by a riding mower (awesome), but the final touches and tight corners were mowed by a push mower.
I was a push mower expert.
While growing up, my father would pay me $3 for our backyard and $2 for the front. It would take me a few hours on a Saturday, but by the end of the day I had a hot $5 burning my palm. I would mow all sorts of designs in our yard. My favorite was to circle the dogwood in the center of the front yard, alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise circles to create a “sound wave.”
At least in my mind it looked like a sound wave radiating from the tree. Then there was the 4th of July when I attempted a “fireworks” design in the backyard before a picnic. That didn’t go over very well – it was just a muddled mess and no one noticed it. Sigh. The life of an under-appreciated push mower artist…
So when I could put my push mower prowess to work for my grandfather, I was enthusiastic.
All was going well until one night I mowed over an underground hive of bees.
They started spurting out of the ground like bullets. One after the other, they immediately eyed me and began dive bombing. I left the mower behind and sprinted away as fast as I could. Surging on adrenaline, the sting I felt on my ankle didn’t slow me down – I was on a mission to get inside FAST!
Once inside, my grandmother tended to my sting and my grandfather wanted to know the facts about the hive’s location. Tranquility returned and I was just about normal when an angry bee dislodged himself from my shirt and started dive bombing in the living room. Chaos erupted. I ran down the hall, Grandma hid in the kitchen and my grandfather was left to battle the little fiend.
Somehow Grandpa ended up with a sting on his wrist and a dead bee on the floor. It was the closest to an alien invasion that I’ve ever experienced. We were injured and couldn’t stop chattering about the bees.
That experience doesn’t match up with my fire-fly twilight lawn mowing fantasy. But that’s why it’s a fantasy and it’s okay with me if there’s a disconnect between reality and fantasy. Once you live out a fantasy it becomes ‘experience,’ which isn’t much to dream about.