Last night, one of our neighborhood boys knocked on our door and asked Kendell if he'd pay him to mow our lawn. Kendell was, of course, kind in his rejection of this idea, but I could hear the humor in his voice...why would he pay someone to mow the lawn when his wife adores doing it anyway? Yep, that's right: I'm a lawn-mowing addict. Kendell told the neighborhood boy that I do it for the exercise. This is sort of correct. I do like the extra calories burned on lawn-mowing days (according to this nifty calorie calculator, I burn about 420 calories mowing my lawn). But it's much more than the exercise that makes me love this necessary task.
When I was growing up, I adored flowers. For me, happiness was the hours I spent wandering around the edges of the cornfield behind our house, gazing at morning glories or sunflowers. My grandpa Fuzz was a master flower gardener, and I still very vividly remember watching him pull weeds and deadhead rosebushes in the flowerbeds outside of the apartment where they lived. During the summer I'd walk around our backyard, just looking at flowers. It's hard to translate into my adult mindset the way that flowers moved me as a child. They were magic to me, little scraps of enchantment given flesh and scent.
But for all that flower adoration, I never planted anything, not a seed, not a petunia pushed from a pony pack, not even a bulb. Honestly, I don't think I ever even considered it. Planting the flowers, watering the trees, mowing the lawn: that was work my dad did. I imagine that as the father of four girls, getting outside to mow the lawn was something of an escape for him! He created a backyard that is still full of flowers, trees, and attention-grabbing visuals (like a few antique wagon wheels). A backyard that I loved, but a backyard that was always his.
So, the second Kendell and I decided to build a house, I started planning the flower beds. I knew exactly what I wanted to start with, the Amy Sorensen Garden Requirements (which began with daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips because I love them; sweet William because they remind me of my grandpa Fuzz, petunias, pansies, and violets for Grandma Florence, periwinkle for Grandma Elsie, and iris because in my mind they're the most elegant flower in existence, but which evolved to include plants like foxgloves, hostas, and columbine). Finally I had a little garden spot to make my own. (Stop thinking about Mary in The Secret Garden because honestly, it's hard to be an adult woman who relates so whole-heartedly to a made-up girl in a child's book!)
Gardening really is one of my happiest things. Even if I'm only weeding, being outside surrounded by flowers that I bought, planted, watered, protected, pruned, debugged, admired, and photographed just makes me happy. And mowing the lawn? It's an escape for me, too. It's an hour and a half a week of time just to think. The roar of the mower makes a path my mind wanders down, new thoughts and ideas springing up around unexpected bends. Plus, mowing gives me the chance to visit all my flowers---to notice which daffodils and tulips need to be clipped back, how close the lilac bush is to blooming, that the rosebushes already need to be sprayed for aphids.
I think it bothers some of the women on my street, my lawn-mowing addiction. Several neighborhood husbands have made jokes alluding to their desire to have a lawn-mowing wife. What they don't know is that mowing the lawn isn't, for me, just another household chore. I feel lucky I get to mow; it's a guaranteed pocket of time, every week, just for me. Being a lawn-mowing wife means that weekly I get to find my own internal silence and to be reminded just how much I love this good green earth. I nearly feel guilty for loving it so much. It's definitely one of my life's pleasures.