It was more than 10 hours in the hot September sun, at least six on Saturday in my sister’s yard and at least another four wrangling my own grass and overgrown shrubbery into submission.
My lawn always looks like a wild pasture towards the end of summer. There’s just too much going on: adjusting to the new rhythms of school, homework and meals, trying to make sense of the first few weeks of the NFL, TV shows returning from hiatus, a major wardrobe shift.
It’s all we can do to keep food in the house this time of year, let alone maintain our long quarter acre to neighborhood standards.
My sister’s yard, which my oldest son and I have undertaken as a responsibility this year, has had a particularly brutal summer, including an episode with a dead possum and frequent bouts of neglect by the caretakers.
By the time I got there on Saturday vine-like weeds had overtaken the bushes and most of the path to the backyard, and all of the pavers at the landing of the deck stairs.
A simple yet deep and abiding satisfaction comes with the Big Fall Cut: pulling the weeds and vines from the flowerbeds, trimming back offshoot branches and dead limbs, exposing the sidewalk line and cleaning up the gutters, hacking away the tendrils of weeds that push through the cracks in the driveway.
It’s drudgework, sure, but somebody’s got to do it. And I don’t mind it. Not really. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been pushing a lawnmower for half my life.
And when the work is done, all shipshape and squared away, ready for the onslaught of fall and the dead of winter, it feels pretty good.
This is my favorite time of year, when the heat ebbs away like a receding tide and our course for the rest of the year is laid bare. It’s time to recalibrate, to reassess, to put things in place for a strong finish.
That’s what’s happening in my yard, and that’s what’s happening at our paper. We hit our Kickstarter goal over the weekend, $10,000, and big things are afoot. The money will be useful, but more important is the doing. Ideas and action beat money almost every day of the week. And this lawn isn’t gonna cut itself.