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"Shorts, Outtakes and Rants"

Most weeks I write a column for my paper; occasionally my daughter writes one. Usually they're focused at local issues, but every now and then I come up with one that I think Spearfish Lake Tales readers would find interesting, so I post them on the Spearfish Lake Tales Message Board. Since I've been neglecting "Shorts, Outtakes and Rants" recently, I decided to repost a few of them here, like this one. I hope you enjoy it! -- Wes

Sisyphian Green

May 27, 2015

After many rants on this subject in this space over the years, I suppose it's not news that I hate winter.

I love summer. I love being able to sit out on the patio in the evening, reading a book or whatever. I love being able to walk around in shirtsleeves, or drive around with the windows down, or just to see people walking down the street enjoying the nice weather. Naturally, I like watching girls wearing shorts. I like green on trees. When it rains, I enjoy the fact that it runs off or soaks in, rather than having to be shoveled or plowed.

But there is one thing I absolutely hate about summer: grass -- or to be specific, lawns. Oh, I suppose they're all right to look at but I hate having to be a slave to them, mowing them what seems like every few minutes.

I come by my dislike of lawn mowing honestly. When I was a kid, my folks decided they wanted a large yard, and wound up with about two acres of it, much of it rough and hilly. Of course, since they had a son, guess who got to mow it -- with a push mower? On top of that I had to mow my grandparents' lawn, which was only slighly smaller.

Have you ever heard of the myth of Sisyphus? He was the guy the gods sentenced to eternally roll a rock uphill? When he got it to the top of the hill it would roll back down, and he'd have to do it all over again. Believe me, those lawns taught me just exactly how he felt, and the advent of riding mowers didn't change my attitude about lawns any.

I don't have to mow my grandparents' lawn any more, but I now live at what was my parents' house and there are still two acres of sometimes rough, sometimes steep lawn to mow. I have said on numerous occasions that if I ever have my way I'll fence off about three-quarters of it and let natural succession take its course. However, I always seem to lose that argument.

For some reason I could never get my daughter to mow it when she was growing up, but at least her husband is doing it for the time being -- at least when the mower is running, which it hasn't been of late. The mower we have is old enough to vote, and it has paid its dues. We had a lot of trouble getting it started last summer, and it has been worse this year. By hook and by crook Dan and I managed to get the thing running a couple of times and mowed the lawn, which grew back about as fast and we could run the mower over it.

So the last time we went to get the mower going (it took both of us) it wouldn't start. Getting someone to work on the thing is difficult, especially since I don't have a way to take it to a repair shop. I won't go into all of the ins and outs of the problem, but by the time we finally got the stupid thing to start, the grass was knee deep. I was beginning to wish that I had fenced the place off and put horses or goats or something inside the fence -- which might not be a bad idea on the surface but it strikes me as another thing that could be so Sisyphian to be beyond belief. We finally got it working, but somewhere along we way we managed to screw up the switch that turns the mower deck on.

But the grass was still growing. Finally I caved in and decided to see if I could get someone to mow it commerically before I had to call in a logging crew to deal with the fast-growing jungle.

I hate voicemail. I left messages in a number of different places over the course of a couple of weeks and got no response. Well, if someone doesn't want to to the job I'm not going to stand over them with a shotgun, but it would have been nice to get a call back from someone saying, "Sorry, my list is full up."

How about the neighbor whose lawn I mowed a couple times last year when his mower was broken down? He never answers his voicemail. So much for that great notion.

I finally got a call back from a local guy this weekend. He agreed to mow the lawn to at least get it under control again, but at a price I'd be hesitant to pay on a regular basis. So there's that problem solved for the moment, but now I have to deal with the issue of fixing the mower or deciding whether I want to keep throwing good money after bad.

You can't win against a lawn.

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