Recently while tossing on my work duds and watching the morning news, I saw one of our WLIO weather types giving the forecast. She was professional and seemed quite comfortable with the meteorological jargon that is the rhetorical incumbency of her profession.
I found myself wondering as I watched her, like so many media types who’ve demonstrated real talent and have made Lima merely a stepping stone to brighter lights, such as Hugh Downs, Michael Reghi and Scott Clark, how long it would be before she’d be moving on.
Whenever I have that thought, I also think of those radio and TV types with whom we’ve been blessed who did stay put despite, I’m sure, having opportunities to leave us. I think of Jeff Fitzgerald, and his rapport with the camera and his comfortable delivery style that could play anywhere and also Mike Mullen, whose adept handling of play-by-play duties in both football and basketball have been so professionally done for so many years. While there are some local media types who tend to grate over time, for Jeff and Mike, that’s never been the case.
At any rate, when it came to the young weatherwoman’s forecast, what really impressed me was her interjection of what would be the best lawn-mowing windows over the next few days. She certainly had a grasp for what matters so much in May to homeowners when lawns come back to life with a quickened growing pace of emerald growth.
As for my own history with mowing, like many of you, it began as a child when it became my chore in 1959, for me, in the 1500 block of Latham Avenue. And, in those times, my mower could run all day without a single drop of gas, as long as I pushed that rolling bladed-cylinder two-wheeler that made that clicking sound hard enough to shoot the clippings onto the tops of my Keds and the rolled-up portion of my blue jeans.
A year or so latter, I was thrilled when my father upgraded my equipment to a gas power that roared to life when I took a tug on the cord of that Briggs and Stratton. At ten years old, I was thrilled to be entrusted with something with an engine.
Through the years and continuing to this day, in May, I find myself with a renewed sense of passion for mowing. I know full well that as the summer wanes and the grass browns in spots, as it always does for folks like me who don’t believe in throwing good water on the ground, my ardor will diminish in much the same way as I feel no compulsion to dry-clean a shirt with a frayed collar, but May is different when the verdancies of spring are upon us.
I mean, really, is there anything outside of perhaps the aroma of bacon frying and the smell of burning leaves in the fall that can match the smell of freshly cut grass in the spring?
In Thornton Wilder’s exquisitely simplistic yet profound ode to American life, Our Town, it is the narrator known only as Stage Manager who muses to the audience in the play’s first act as he watches Mr. Webb’s cutting his lawn, “One man in ten thinks it’s a privilege to push his own lawnmower.” I think of that line often when it’s time for me to fill the mower tank, both because I taught the play for many years during my classroom days and because I always think, especially at 67 a week from tomorrow, I’m that one in ten that does feel it’s a privilege.
As for my Lady Jane, well, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who holds mowing in higher regard than this Montezuma-born-bred-and stayed-put gal. Given her considerable patch of real estate, unlike me, she has a rider, one she’s accorded the sobriquet “Pretty Girl.” It’s a machine she holds in much higher regard than the machine without a nickname that sits beside her in the garage, that Honda CR-V she purchased a few months ago that she’ll resent for a full calendar because of the size of the check she had to write to drive it home.
Of course, much of our May queries when we talk on the phone seem to begin the same way, as in “Do you think it’s too wet to…” or “Can we ride bikes Saturday, or do you have to…”
And, of course, that’s why I appreciated our, for-now, WLIO weather gal and her ability to blend into her forecast what really matters. She demonstrated an ability to speak the language of spring for all of us who place early-season mowing in such high regard, that is, before August arrives and we’ve filed such a task under the banalities of life.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.