I know I am supposed to greet the spring greening of grass in my yard with enthusiasm, if not country-smug verdant pleasure.
But I don't. If anything, I find this annual popping-bursting-sprouting orgy areminder that, until Thanksgiving, I will spend more of my energy behind a lawn mower than behind a book.
Mowing-as-an annoyance is not a new tradition in my life. It is, however, one I had hoped to discard -- or have reassigned -- by now.
Heaven knows I tried. From the day I moved into a house with yard privileges, I pretended to know nothin'-'bout-mowin'-no-lawn.
Thismyth survived until the one who did know about lawn mowing moved outand the yard duties became mine by default.
My own mowing historybegan where everyone else's started: in my parents' yard. That I wasa girl never entered into the eternal equation of endless work and chores my mother, with her Calvinist sympathies, assigned.
Grass mowing was just another in a long string of children's chores my pre-feminist era mother grouped under the artless heading of "Work That Needs To Be Done." My brothers grew up making cakes as naturally as I hauled stone from the garden to the rock pile.
The boys liked to dothe upper side next to the road where traffic (and girls) could admire their bare chests. I much preferred the lower garden portion whereno one (especially boys) would see me at all.
Family lore holds that weed abatement and grand, sweeping expanses lost their final luster when the cost of hiring a neighborhood kid to keep two acres mowedwent to $12 a clip.
It was shortly after the dawning of that economic truth when the yard shriveled to a reasonable size and a new word found its way into my parents' vocabulary: lawn. Having a lawn, as opposed to a yard, brought with it attendant alterations in material acquisition and lifestyle -- the first being a color TV for my father, followed by a Lazy-Boy recliner, eventually membership in the Elks.
And finally, and most brilliantly, my mother bought my father hisvery own riding mower.
Twenty years later, he is still riding through the grass-growing months in a state of leisurely authority whileI am here in the spring of 1991 pushing a mower once again. I hate mowing grass almost as much as I remember.
I have a special disaffection for the hot, nostalgic blue roar of the mower and the familiar shiver of my hands, swollen and red, vibrating so intensely I can still feel the black, shiny handles of the mower long past the second gin and tonic it takes to quench an honest mowing thirst.
When I called last week and I mentioned I had just bought a new lawn mower, my mother replied, "You kids always did like mowing the grass."
Eileen Shields Fisher and her new mower can be found cutting her grass in Westminster.