We have a few John Deeres in the family. The most hours are put on the one that keeps the lawn under control. The second busiest tractor is probably the pedal car that the grandchildren drive when they come for a visit.
My husband usually mows the lawn. But now and then I take a turn. It is a simple job, that gives me a lot of time to think. What I have been thinking about this spring is our former neighbour up the road. She had a lawn tractor too, but it wasn’t a John Deere. Green was not her colour.
Her lawn tractor didn’t have a bagger on it, so she would hand rake the rows of grass that were left on her lawn. Then she would put the cuttings in a bucket and haul them into the woods, where she would scatter them. When she got tired, she would turn the bucket over and sit on it for a while. She probably had about an acre of grass.
A few years ago, we had a lot of rain. Her grass got very long, and her tractor couldn’t cut it. My husband took our John Deere to her place, and mowed her lawn a few times. She was impressed with the fact that there was nothing left to rake. “It’s a mulching mower,” my husband said.
So she sent her son off to the local implement dealer to get her a new tractor. He had a rear bagger delivered to her. She used it once, then complained bitterly about how difficult it was to empty the bagger in the woods where she liked to scatter her grass. The mower went back, and a mulching mower took its place. She was back in business.
Except for the ditch. She was not comfortable with the new tractor on the steep sides of the ditch, so my husband mowed her ditch that summer. But the next summer, she trusted her tractor, and she was doing all her own mowing again. That summer she was 85 years old. The following spring, she passed away.
I’m near the end of todays mowing. The only part left is the ditch. I think about how much I don’t like mowing the ditch. It is deep and steep. I picture my neighbour as she navigated the ditch on her tractor. She inspires me to… go sit on an upended bucket for a while and think about whether I really want a cleanly mowed ditch.