Saturday, May 20, 2017

The pros and cons of riding mowers

I don't mind walking.

I think it's what's kept me alive.

My doctor EJ Crispin once predicted, whilst I was still enjoying (or not so much) my early twenties, that I would not live to see thirty.

EJ, may he rest in peace, would be shocked to see me now. I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised myself.

His theory was that the line between "experimentation" and "substance abuse" can be more than a little nebulous, and it is always prudent to err on the side of moderation. My theory has been, if you can keep a job and pay your bills, you're doing OK, regardless of what you may do in your spare time.

If that spare time includes excessive amounts of excess... well, just walk it off when you come out of it.

That's led to some great walks. I recall walking up a mountain in the Austrian Alps. It was a dreary drizzly day. I walked and walked and walked. Then I walked and walked some more. The drizzle became an enveloping mist. I kept walking.

After maybe eight or ten hours of walking I imagined I heard voices... I was getting high into the mountain. It was getting dark.

Perhaps I was hearing the angels talking amongst themselves?

I kept walking. The voices became more prominent. Wait a minute - those voices were speaking in German.

Obviously not the angels...

No, I'd taken the scenic hike to a mountain-top resort. I took the gondola down the other side. Twelve hours to walk up the hill, twenty minutes to take the gondola back to town.

I'm still walking. Walking behind a push-mower has just been another mode of walking, at least until recently.

My first mower was a Canadian Tire special that I inherited from my brother in law. It was about ten years old when I got it. It did yeoman's service for another ten years. Zero maintenance. For ten years all I had to do was put gas in it.

It finally calved when I had my place in Durham. I splurged and bought a fancy Sears walk-behind. Close to five hundred bucks. That lasted for ten years or so.

Then I bought another Sears mower. Just over five hundred bucks this time. Didn't make it through four seasons.

Do you see a pattern here?

The manufacturers have got the lifespan of a lawnmower down to four years from twenty-plus.

That's progress for you.

I then bought the cheapest piece-of-shit mower I could find, $199 at Home Hardware. It's more asthmatic than I am. I can hardly get it through the dandelions.

Here at Falling Downs I figure I've got somewhere close to an acre of lawn which, at this time of year, requires a good three hours behind the push mower. More than a few people have wondered why I haven't gone to a rider.

Good question. After all, I don't really do enough substance abuse anymore to justify that amount of walking. I don't have anything to walk off for three hours a week.

It does give me time to think, though.

I think about what a waste it is to cut all that grass when it would be perfectly good feed for goats or rabbits or something.

I think about what a great market garden that acre of lawn would make. But that's a shit-load of work, which is something I'd rather avoid.

I think it might be time for a ride-on.

My dear son Jake has pointed out the potential benefits of a riding mower.

Instead of seeing grass-cutting as a chore, it could be an adventure!

Have a few beers and a huff on the vaporizer, then cut the grass! And the Cub Cadet ride-on I've been eyeing at Hasties has cup-holders! You could have more beers while doing the lawn!

I'm undecided.

I spent three hours behind the pusher today. It's gonna need three more hours before next weekend.

Undecided perhaps, but I have a rough idea where this is going...

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