When it comes to gardening I prefer low tech. What this translates to is that I have no electrical or gas-driven tools to help me manage the jungle. An old pair of hedge trimmers quietly snip, snip away at the forsythia. My felcos dead head tulips, day lilies and the odd hosta spike. My scythe cuts down the long grass that the mower doesn’t get. And my mower? It is one of those old push mowers. A real reel push mower where the only power is me (or my son-in-law.)
The standard push mower with an engine has a 21 inch cut whereas my Scott has a 20 inch one. I’m willing to give up that inch for a very different mowing experience. A manual mower doesn’t spout fumes but emits a quiet whirl of the blades touching the cutting bar as it severs the grass. It is so quiet that I can mow my lawn in the early morning without disturbing anyone in the neighborhood.
As I mow the lawn, I can see little frogs, toads and other creatures that hop out of the way and have enough control over my machine that I don’t frappe them. I can also hear what is happening around me as I make the circular hike about my yard.
I suspect that many of my neighbors find this tool and my behavior somewhat strange. Not only do I cut and trim my own lawn (an anomaly to begin with in my neighborhood) but I use tools that have neither a motor nor engine to accomplish this task.
One day my next door neighbor who is retired came out of his home to get the mail. He saw me mowing the yard and asked how difficult it was to push the mower. “I haven’t seen a mower like that in decades,” he said. I told him it was nothing at all and if he would like he could take a push or two on it.
He accepted my offer and pushed the mower up the hill taking inches off my lawn. He thanked me for the demonstration and then went to get his mail.
A little later a teenage boy came walking down the street. He stopped and looked at me in a quizzical manner.
“I bet you have never seen one of these before,” I said to him. He nodded his head in agreement. “How would you like to take her for a spin? You don’t need a license.”
He quickly agreed and did a pass up the street and then back with my mower.
“That was cool.”
“Well don’t stop!,” I implored. “Do a few more passes or if you want you could even finish the front part of the lawn here.” He thought about it for a second but ultimately declined. Another neighbor was jogging up the street as this potential seduction was unfolding. As she passed me she said laughingly, “Too bad you don’t have a fence that needs whitewashing.”
I agreed with a chuckle and thought to myself perhaps she would also like to take a push. I didn’t have the nerve to ask.