Friday, May 22, 2009

Mower



A guest post from award-winning poet, essayist, and radio presenter, Molly Fisk. Molly gardens in Nevada City, California. Her beguiling radio essays are broadcast on KVMR-FM and collected on two CDs, Using Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace and Blow-Drying a Chicken.



I once took an essay-writing workshop from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Adair Lara. She said that if your readers don't like you, you're sunk, and therefore some subjects just don't work, like being a size 6, or having an entourage.


Well, God knows I'm not a size 6, and my entourage is feline, which doesn't count, but I did win a prize the other day. Before you write me off, though, let me add that it was a poetry prize, and therefore marginal - along the lines of winning a spelling bee in Latvian or a recipe contest using only plums and Velveeta. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled. But it's not something to dislike me for.


Adair also said that the fastest way into readers' hearts is to admit something embarrassing about yourself. Which brings me to the subject of riding lawn mowers.


Last summer, trying to cope with almost an acre of long grass, I bought a ride mower. I wanted to call it a tractor, which has a charming, Wendell Berry-like, rural cachet, but it was just a totally suburban ride mower. For an amazingly long time I was able to Tom-Sawyer other people into riding this thing. But yesterday the grass was knee-high and no gullible friends were around to save me.

      

Since the operating instructions were printed on the fender, I was able to turn the darn thing on and drive it around in circles quite successfully. I even figured out how to engage the blade so actual mowing took place. I tootled along, cutting a wide swath, as they say, until most of the grass was cut. There was just this one little inconvenient hill I had been avoiding, where I had to disobey the instructions and mow from side to side instead of uphill and down, due to three maple trees and the septic tank.


The first two passes across this hill were terrifying but accomplished without incident. Travelling at about the speed of grass growing, my non-size-6 person listing perilously to starboard, I made the final approach.


You think I fell off, don't you? Well, I didn't. I would never fall off a ride mower. Instead, there was a small cracking sound and the steering wheel came off in my hands. Unphased by this development, the mower kept going, heading straight for the largest maple.


That was when, with the speed and agility of a bareback stunt rider, I swung one leg over the saddle and slid gracefully to the ground (still gripping the wheel). No, I didn't break anything, and the mower cleverly stopped all by itself. With regal dignity, I jammed the steering wheel back on its column and walked up to the house.


 The mower is still out on the lawn. It looks kind of sweet there, red body, black tires, against the green of the grass. Since I'm never going to touch it again, I'm thinking of planting some petunias around the base and calling it yard art.




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19 comments:

Red Studio said...

Hilarious! In the photo the mower looks huge and ominous, as if it should have it's own doom impending music. But I am sure the petunias would fix that right up.

Daffodil Planter said...

Welcome Red Studio! I'm hearing the theme from Jaws, myself.

peoniesinthesnow said...

That is such a scary story. Molly if I were there I would help you plant those petunias. You were very brave and lucky to not be hurt.

Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Great post! I wish we could hear your radio essays down here in So Cal.

Janet said...

Good one!! Those riding lawm mowers are dangerous creatures!

krazy kiyote said...

Molly Fisk's essays archived at http://kvmr.org

Pomona Belvedere said...

Well, if tractors are one of the largest causes of farm accidents, then maybe your mower counts as a tractor now...

Daffodil Planter said...

Peonies, Yes, she is brave!

Fern, I believe that KVMR is streaming on the Web. Molly has a great voice.

Janet, They look so cute when they're not moving, don't they?

Welcome krazy kiyote! Thanks for the KVMR site.

Pomona, If it acts like a tractor and has accidents like a tractor....

Heather said...

I can completely visualize that happening! Very funny:-D

Maranta said...

You may have stumbled onto a possible plot for the next movie in the Speed franchise... I'll notify Keanu Reeves.

Jenny said...

Someone said the photo made the mower seem ominous, but when I look at it, I could swear the mower looks frightened. Something about those beady little headlight eyes and the gaping air vents across the front. Maybe it knows something bad is about to happen? The other thing that strikes me about the photo is, do you by chance have a slight dandelion problem? : )

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

Falling off a lawn mower is exactly why I've never tried to drive one. It's funny, because i can certainly drive a tractor and a four wheeler, but the rideon lawnmower fills me with deep suspicion so I don't go anywhere near it. Sad but true. Happily, longsuffering spouse does that task.

VW said...

That is very funny. Actually, I'd be terrified. I'm kind of a timid driver. A steering wheel falling off might give me a heart attack!

Daffodil Planter said...

Heather, Glad you liked it! Molly's essays are great. I highly recommend her CDs as gifts.

Maranta, Have Keanu Reeves' people call Molly's people about the screenplay. I'll go shop for my red carpet dress.

Daffodil Planter said...

Jenny, So, the tractor is frightened and not ominous? A garden blog first: riding mower photo as Rorschach test. Who needs ink blots? We'd better buy stock in John Deere before word gets out that they have new uses for their product photos.

As for the pretty, yellow flowers in the photos--I take it you are not a paid-up member of the International Dandelion Fanciers Society?

Daffodil Planter said...

Jodi and VW, You two sound bold enough to drive ride mowers. I'm surprised you're not keen on the concept. Too tippy? I'll have to take a closer look at Molly's mower and report back.

Michelle said...

I can't stop laughing. If Gary Larson were to draw this...

But really, I'm happy no one was hurt.

Daffodil Planter said...

Michelle, Yes, brava Molly!

Barbara said...

OMG! That's my laugh for the day!