Our lawn mower wouldn’t start this spring. I waited until the grass was shin high to even try and, by then, every shop in town had a two week wait.
With this home, we inherited a neighborhood chore. We mow 1/3 of the public land out back. Mowing is my job. I love to mow. Andy is very allergic to flying particals of grass and weed. Our house came with a tractor but I prefer the push mower. I like the exercise, the hands-on, the rhythm. The tractor wouldn’t start either.
We turned to YouTube, as we do with things like this. Andy drained and replaced the gas and oil. No start. The next day he replaced the air filter. No start. That same day he took the whole thing apart and got groovy with every piece and place. No start. The grass was growing by the minute, I swear. He was fired up. Man vs. Lawn Mower.
He stopped only to go for a bike ride, at my urging. That adrenaline needed to go somewhere, I winked. When he got home, he stood in the driveway with his hands on hips and rounded shoulders. That day, he would accept defeat and have a gin beverage on the deck.
Sunday morning he was back at it. Alternating between YouTube videos. saying swears at the lawn mower and jumping on the trampoline with the kids. I had stopped suggesting we get on the wait list to take it in. He was committed.
I admire my husband’s steady determination. He really can do anything. Nothing is ever a mystery or too hard. He gets there. And when frustration sets in, my role is humor and making hearty, healthy snacks. He stays well-nourished and even when he doesn’t laugh I know he thinks I am funny.
It’s the spark plug, he announced as he took off for the hardware store again.
Our daughters were cheerfully invested by now. They knew it was a duel that had been going on for several days. They knew they wanted their dada to win. Their support came in hula hooping while singing Let It Go. Their support came in sidewalk chalk drawings around the sad mower and thousands of questions.
We were making bread in the kitchen when we heard the engine start up. I don’t think the sound of Santa’s sleigh bells could have beat the sound of that mower. Margot and Ruby tumbled off their stools and ran, shrieking and barefoot to the driveway, where Andy stood with one hand on the lawn mower and his modestly proud close-lipped grin. He believed in their enthusiasm and gave into a celebration of kid tosses in the tall grass. They know he hung the moon.
Andy announced he’d mow for a bit. He triumphantly pushed that beast through the waving green blades while sneezing and sneezing and smiling and sneezing.
I watched my man’s 36 year-old body walk behind the mower and had this moment of understanding time, of appreciating my time with him. Our daughters danced circles in his periphery. He moves just like he did when he was 11. Quiet, confident, long strides. He still has that thick, wild hair that barely fits under a hat. I am still charmed by the same things: his creativity, smarts, adventure, humility and kindness.
This day, 17 years ago, Andy and I had our first date. We went rock climbing in East Rosebud. We kissed by the creek and ate peanut butter and jelly on stale bagels. We sped home, around those sunny corners and over those green hills, trying to be on time returning his mom’s car to Red Lodge. We were late and newly in love.
While Andy mowed, I grabbed my camera and army crawled in the grass taking pictures, bugs flying all around my head. Babe, he laughed. What are you doing?! What if a rock kicks out from the mower? But he knew I’d keep taking photos. Just like I knew he’d get that mower to work. We know. Through broken things and fixed things. I enjoy manicured landscape, but I like our unruly jungle even better.
Love (and humor, snacks, perseverance) triumphs!
Bet you never could have imagined army-crawling through the hard won short grass, photographing this man at work 17 years ago. Love the continuing surprises of history.