THE GOSHEN NEWS
“Sometimes Christmas Comes in Orange.” That was the title of the photo album posted one springlike April day.
The pictures showed a brand-new mower in a bright, shiny orange. The grass beneath it was emerald green and, I noted, had been neatly trimmed. In several frames, a small, yellow Hummer was parked precisely beside the big machine.
Photos from behind showed the tires on both, Hummer sporting hard plastic wheels while the mower carried large “I mean business” tires. From the front, they gleamed orange and yellow just there beside a barn of red in the dying sun that streaked gold across the yard.
What they didn’t show, those pictures, was the operators of the two machines, namely Mr. Schrock and his youngest son, Little. Too, they left unseen what was parked in the old, red barn — a smaller mower, also orange, but not quite as bright and shiny as its replacement.
After 10 years of caring for three acres of what was essentially rough pasture land, it was wearing out. The fact that its primary drivers had been boys had not helped its longevity, either. The father of the erstwhile grounds crew had wearied of paying for repairs as the yard turned into a jungle, swallowing children and small pets that wandered over the property line.
“Enough,” he said as the mowing season approached, and he began to shop around.
“Aha!” I said when he told me what he’d found. A mower by the name of Bad Boy? I could see how that fit, given what happened sometimes in the back yard. And the slogan, “Mow with an attitude?” Well, that fit, too.
Hadn’t there been attitudes of great reluctance on the part of the grounds crew when asked to do the job? Yes, there had. And hadn’t there been attitudes of evasion and finger pointing? Shouts of, “It’s your turn. I did it last time?” Why, yes. There had.
There’d been attitudes of mischief last summer during one jungle period when Someone loaded the Hummer’s trunk with green walnuts. Then, as Little piloted his car alongside the push mower, he unleashed a fusillade of nuts at a sibling. Who fled in haste, abandoning his own mower completely as the vegetation continued its march, overtaking even the chicken coop.
Now, there was a new attitude, a fresh wind that blew. And it smelled like glee. Like boyish delight, the kind that only a vehicle with a fast engine and a gas tank can evoke in the male species.
“Men and their toys,” I sighed to my friends. “Give ’em a new mower, and it’s Christmas in the back 40. A new purse is less expensive, and you can hang it on your arm and match your shoes all at the same time. Just sayin.’”
A cousin, male, was the first to weigh in. “Yeah, but it doesn’t cut the grass that well unless, of course, you can spin it fast enough.”
“I hear you,” a friend said. “You can keep your Chapstick in a purse. Where does one keep it on a mower?”
“You can hardly carry money in a mower for things like groceries. Or shoes,” said another friend, clearly understanding the order of things.
Then a white-haired woman, full of wisdom, spoke up, stating that in her opinion, a lawnmower wasn’t worth its salt unless it had a cup holder. For drinks. Which naturally required what? Why, the change one kept in one’s purse. Naturally.
Then another male cousin chimed in. “If you get the right mower, it comes with a storage compartment, a cup holder, and a trailer for the groceries.”
Unable to resist, I added, “And if it would be any better, it would come with a matching purse.” He retired in disgust, and after a couple more downturns and counter arguments on the merits of engines versus handbags, we brought it in for a landing. And that’s when I posted the pictures.
Yes, a fresh wind is blowing here, a virtual hurricane of jubilation. For the boys, it’s their reassignment from the bulk of the mowing. Father, for now, will be the sole operator of the Wondrous Machine.
This one, he says most grimly, will not be used as a getaway vehicle. It will not whip in circles around the barn or turn frenzied loop-de-loops around the rhubarb and through the garden as Someone Bigger gives chase on foot. Conversely, it will not be used in the pursuit of younger siblings as its predecessor was.
However. This one won’t hear its owner practicing his “roller coaster screams” just in time for summer camp. This is likely because he’s too old for camp and because he refuses to have his feet flung above his head on purpose, muttering something like, “It’s just not natural.”
For now, he’s too busy smiling broadly as he sails along, turning on a dime, cold drink tucked in the cup holder. What a happy attitude he has. Until, I suspect, he runs out of grass and starts whimpering instead.