My boys put up a pretty good show of resistance — the younger one, in particular — but I finally got them out on the lawn.
There they squinted against the midday sun with eyes sensitized from an overlong session with the PlayStation, a recent upgrade that would not have been possible were it not for the dreaded acts of heavy labor they were about to perpetrate.
This, friends, is the year.
This is the year I hand over the tools of yardsmithery to the next generation, my teenage sons, who inexpert though they may be, could not possibly take worse care of this lawn than I have.
I leave them big patches of bare, brown dirt in the front yard, and a wide divot where I dug out a rock as big as a car engine and didn’t have quite enough to fill it up. I leave them a very thorny tree, like razor wire, and another that I swear is gonna fall down if someone tries to climb it, and a patch of abandoned garden in the back corner where lie the interred remains of no less than three small animals. There is also the back slope, which at this point is greened completely by weed cover.
They say that when a man starts writing his newspaper column about his lawn, he’s just about had it.
Some of the most startling revelations I’ve ever had came as I pushed the mower across my property, itself an allegory for imposing unnatural authority on the natural world, or keeping up with the neighbors. Not to mention the grand drama of wildlife I’ve seen enacted within the confines of my yard.
This weekend’s scene was another for the ages: the little one angling his delicate body against the growling machine, the big one revving the weed-whacker — a promotion of sorts — like it was a musical instrument while I took on an administrative role, dictating cut patterns and restringing line.
There was a moment there, standing in the front yard, hands on my hips like a rube as the temperate sun beamed down upon me, that I honestly could not believe my good fortune.
When it was all done, I watched my boys survey their work: the neat expanse by the patio, the clean edges of the walk. I told them how good it feels to cut a lawn. They finally believed me.
My days as a yardman, it seems, are coming to an end. Not now. But soon. I suppose I’ll have to find a new allegory.