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LIFE . . . WITHOUT BUMPER PADS

Helping with lawn care brings out rebel with a cause

Monday, June 17, 2013 - 12:01 am

Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.

There's at least one in every neighborhood: the house with the unkempt lawn.

This is the house that somehow becomes the bane in the existence of the neighbors who carefully manicure their grass. It is the topic of conversation in front porch discussions, and it is the thing many residents can count as one of the blessings of the snowy winter season.

I remember learning of this phenomenon at a young age. As I stood outside with my father — a man able to garner countless hours of entertainment from simply gazing out at his lawn handiwork — he shook his head at one of the neighboring homes.

“I don't understand those people,” he said. “That grass is an eyesore. They should be ashamed.”

I craned my neck in the direction of his glare, and gave my young shoulders a shrug. It didn't look that bad to me.

And perhaps that is what led to the very thing I must now admit to – my house, on occasion, has been …the unkempt lawn house.

Yes, it is gasp-worthy. And it is primarily my fault.

“I need to get out there and take care of the lawn today,” my husband announced the first Sunday after we moved into our home.

I looked up at him and blinked. After living in an apartment for the better part of a decade, lawn work had sailed completely off my radar. Frankly, I hated doing it.

“OK,” I said hesitantly. “I'll just keep unpacking. How long will you be?”

“Not sure,” he responded. “A couple of hours maybe.”

Mild disappointment landed upon me, but I shook my head with the recognition that this was obviously part of adulthood, home ownership and responsibility. So, off went my husband to do lawn work.

Six hours later, he came back inside.

“Much better,” he said as he guzzled a glass of water.

“You were out there a pretty long time,” I said, irritation sneaking into my voice.

“A lot to do,” he said easily. As he headed upstairs for the shower, I looked out the window with a frown. Honestly, it didn’t look that different to me.

And just like that, a battle of the wills was born.

Work schedules, newborns, children’s activities, fatigue and even some fantastically timed storm clouds became my tools for stifling my husband’s full-day absence at the hands of the lawn. It didn’t always work; and because he handled my pleas with relative patience, I had no clue that a volcano was slowly building beneath his stoic exterior.

One day, it erupted.

“I need to do the lawn today,” he said without looking up from his newspaper.

“Ugh,” I responded.

Boom.

“The lawn has to be taken care of!” he exclaimed, making me jump. “It looks awful! It’s humiliating! The neighbors think I’m crazy!”

I shook my head and looked out the window, ready to pose my argument that the lawn looked fine. But as I stared out at long grass, overgrown weeds and a mulch line that had basically disappeared, I waved the metaphorical white flag.

“Point taken,” I told him. “But does it have to consume the entire day? What if I mow while you trim and pull weeds and all the other stuff you do out there?”

He looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“You want to mow?” he said with obvious surprise.

I shrugged.

“Why not?” I asked. “At least it will cut the time down and then we can go do something fun.”

Thirty minutes later, I was armed with gloves, earphones, and a husband willing to save me the embarrassment of pulling the mower to “start.” The machine roared to life, and I was off and running. My husband peered over at me frequently, but I pretended not to notice.

Some of the neighbors observed this new routine with apparent interest, but I just smiled and waved. Before I knew it, I had a yard full of freshly mowed grass. I couldn’t help but be impressed with my straight lines and clean edges, and as I stood appreciating my hard work, my husband walked over with an amused grin.

“You did good,” he said.

“It’s strangely satisfying,” I told him, amazed the words had escaped my lips.

“You mean you …,” he began.

“Yes, I see your point,” I conceded with an eye roll.

He patted me on the back and then wandered off chuckling. I looked after him with a mild grin.

It was definitely an unexpected transition — I actually liked lawn work. But the rebel in me decided I might just miss being the subject of those front porch chats.

This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. Jill Adams blogs at http://lifewithoutbumperpads.blogspot.com.