TIME TO MOW THE LAWN (SNIPS AND SNAILS AND PUPPY DOG TAILS)
I ENJOY MOWING MY LAWN.
I’m the first one on my block to get the mower out in the spring and the last one to put it away in the fall. I’m not saying I have the best looking lawn in the neighborhood—that honor belongs to Ron—but I am confident that no one relishes this chore more than I do. As much as I enjoy cutting the grass however, there are some things I don’t enjoy at all. And today I ran into one of those things. More accurately, I ran over one of those things.
There I was mowing the lawn, carving beautiful parallel lines through the grass, not a care in the world. Suddenly a sickening crunching and grinding noise filled the air and my mower ground to an immediate stop. It sounded as if a bucket of gravel had been poured into a blender running at full speed.
I tentatively pulled back the mower, almost afraid to discover what had caused the commotion. I expected to see a stick or a rock or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure. Instead, I saw a snake. Well, pieces of a snake. And I don’t like snakes. Especially snakes that I’m not expecting to see. So with the well-being of my family as my greatest concern, I did as any man would do—I screamed like a little girl. Then, using my cat-like reflexes I sprang toward the back porch a short 25 yards away. Though the reptile was in remnants I needed to protect my family. And I figured I could best do that by putting as much distance as possible between me and the snake.
As I stood guard at the back porch for the next 30 minutes, my adrenaline and heart rate slowly returned to something resembling normal. Knowing what I had to do next I gulped, stepped off the porch, and began walking back across the yard. En route I retrieved a 10-foot pole I had been keeping on hand for just such an occasion. When I got to the snake it seemed smaller than I had remembered, and a lot more mangled. Fortunately I had just replaced the mower blades.
After poking and prodding the pieces with my 10-foot pole, I was finally confident the serpent was dead. But then I recalled reading somewhere that snakes travel in packs. Or herds, or gaggles, whatever a group of snakes is called. Perhaps there was a mama snake who had now gathered all of her snake friends and were plotting their snake revenge. Unlikely? Perhaps. But it wasn’t a chance I was willing to take. I decided the lawn could wait until tomorrow. Or Wednesday. Or the Wednesday after that.
As I walked toward the back door I heard my son come in the front door—he hadn’t been home and had missed all of the excitement. Recognizing a teaching opportunity, I summoned him to the backyard. Though he’s only 10 years old I knew this could be a crucial father-son moment. It was a chance to share my experience and wisdom, to pay it forward to the next generation.
But then I changed my mind. There would be other teaching moments; no need to rush.
I smiled, and asked about his day. He told me his day had been fine.
“That’s good,” I said as I quickly walked into the house. “I need you to finish mowing the lawn.”