“Never trust a man who doesn’t cut his own lawn.”

That’s something I used to say often, but I’m trying to de-gender my language, so now I say “Never trust anyone who doesn’t cut their own lawn,” using the singular “they” which we all agree is now grammatically acceptable.

Longtime readers likely know that I cut my own lawn, still, even though I am technically “not young” and might even be a little bit “at risk” on hotter days. I take it a little slower than I used to, which is why this summer the grass has been lengthening more than usual. So when I cut it — inevitably on dewy, dewy mornings — the mulched grass has been clogging up the chute and gathering in large clumps along the cut rows. It looks kinda like shit. Then I spend another hour or so raking up the clippings that land everywhere: the driveway, the walkway, the flower beds, the patio, like when someone throws a handful of glitter in your car.

Perhaps the more experienced yardsmiths are now asking themselves: Why didn’t he use the mulch bag?

Because I never use the mulch bag. Never! Because I learned everything I know about tending a lawn the summer I worked for the parks division of the Garden City Municipal Services Yard: how to service a mower, how to make an edge with a weed-whacker, how to turn a crate full of nickel-deposit cans into a full case of beer. And we never used the mulch bag. And so, for 20 years, I never used the mulch bag. Why would I?

Until this weekend. Now my lawn looks like a freakin’ golf course. And I feel, as I have so many times before, like a fool.

We had our reasons, that long ago summer, to do things the way we did. But those solutions never really applied to my short quarter-acre, which I cut with a push mower. The best solution to my problem, in fact, had been sitting on a shelf in my garage gathering dust and straight-up spiderwebs. I looked at it all the time; I just thought I knew better. But now I see.

And so, after 20 years of cutting this lawn, I feel like I’m really starting to get the hang of it.

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