A Flatlander in the Hills of North Carolina
Is it just me or does it scream “RECENT TRANSPLANT” if you fall out of your own yard three time while trying to mow the grass?
My prior lawn mowing escapades have included running a new Zero Turn mower over two of my prize blueberry bushes before I got the hang of the thing, but I’ve never fallen out of the yard before. Granted, I was in the deep South where a fire ant mound constitutes undulating topography. Now I am in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and my front lawn slopes steeply from my porch to the road. A few weeks ago I was using the apparently ancient riding lawnmower I had bought after attempting to coerce a push mower around Mount Phyllis. And it was self-propelled—the lawn mower, not the mount. (Note to self. Disengage the self-propel function when going DOWN the incline.)
So, anyway, being low on funds, I searched for an affordable riding mower. Being low on mechanical saavy . . . I bought one. The first time I tried to use it, I thought I would surely either topple over going sideways across a mini mountain or rush headlong to a spectacular death speeding down said mountain. But by the time I finished the front yard—and a bottle of cheap red wine—it wasn’t so bad. I had learned when to go sideways, when to go up the incline and when and how fast to go down the incline. (Otherwise, you either fall out of the yard or slide backwards into the road.) I had also learned the intricacies of self-propel, as I still had to push mow the scariest places.
Unfortunately, each time I used the riding mower, it worked less well. It slid around and backwards on the hills unless the ground was very dry and the grass was very short—in which case it didn’t need mowing anyway. Add to that, the cutting deck apparently became unlevel (maybe when I got stuck on the little tree trunk), as it scalped on one side of the cut and was long on the other, requiring a second pass.
When I got done, I called my son – who MAY be wishing I would go back to undulating ant hill territory – to witness the lawn mowing fiasco. My front yard looked like it had been attacked by a horde of mutant land-dwelling vegetarian piranhas. As my neighbors all keep their lawns immaculately manicured, this dilemma may resolve itself when I am run out of the neighborhood on a rail—or on my own ancient, inefficient, limping riding mower.
My son looked at the yard in wonder, or was that dismay, then went into the garage to check out the lawnmower. After a brief inspection he said, “Uh, Mom, did you know your back tires are flat?” I looked. The left one was low and went flat when weight was applied, but the right one was undeniably flat as a pancake. (We say flat as a flitter down in flatlander country, but what the heck is a flitter? Could it be a fritter and I’ve been saying it wrong for decades? But I digress.)
Well that explained the piranhas and also corroborated the reason there is a petition in at least two states to prevent me from handling any kind of tools, yard or otherwise. Said son aired up the tires, which promptly went flat, and then had tubes put in them and I was back in business. The yard is neatly mowed, but there was still the matter of the edging. I’ve just ignored it all summer, except for the one time I tried to weed eat with a pair of scissors.
There was only one thing to do, so I went to the Agricultural Warfare Armaments Division HQ (commonly known as Lowes Garden Department) and purchased an electric weed eater – and a hedge trimmer for good measure. I came home, and I have suited up and am going in. Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her power tools on!