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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)

By Jean Beier


It had gotten where I no longer had the strength to tug the rip cord hard enough, or stretch it far enough, to get the lawnmower fired up and blaring. The rare times I did get it started, I then had to contend with having the strength and endurance to keep up with the power which the monster, as I called it, gave me no control. The mower seemed to have a mind of its own. My hands tightly held to the bar, with my arms stretched out straight. I would feel my body do a jiggle, shake, and wiggle walk, back and forth the lawn. It was not a pretty picture. One that I hoped the neighbors did not see.

Now this will certainly give away my age, but I began to dream of easier and more peaceful days. The good old days when mowing the lawn was not only quieter but actually fun. And you needed no gasoline and oil. There was no tugging on a cord till you had exhausted all your strength. You simply placed your hands on the hand bar and pushed away. Two wheels with blades attached between them would whirl and cut, throwing the grass back on the ground to either be raked, or left to enrich the ground it spread on. You moved at your own speed, not wrestling the power of an uncontrollable monster.

Not expecting that such a piece of equipment still could be in existence, I found that good old Sears still carries such a contraption. It is called a reel mower. They also come with two small extra wheels that work much like training wheels on a beginner bike. It looks quite funny, but it does give stability. I decided to purchase one.

So the first warm sunny day, I got out my newly acquired reel mower. I was happy and content as I began my walk back and forth the grass. It was just as I remembered, fun and quiet. That is until one of the neighborhood children spotted me. You would think he had spotted an alien from out of space. He lay belly down on the ground, head in his hands, elbows on the ground, and watched. Finally he got the courage to ask, “What is that?”

I answered quite simply, “It’s a lawnmower.” He looked doubtfully at it and me, got up from the ground and left.

Minutes later, the boy returned, but not alone. With him came several other neighbor hood children, all of which stared whimsically at the thing and me. That is what I heard them call the mower, “that thing”. I was spared hearing what they called me, but I’m sure old lady was in their vocabulary somewhere.

I had just gotten used to the audience, and had managed to space them out, so I could enjoy my back to the past experience; when a car drove up and parked in front of my home. A man older than me, stepped out of the car, and walked up to me. I noticed that he had a religious track in his hands. I was braced for his mini sermon, but instead he blurted out, “I haven’t seen one of those for many years. Where did you ever find it?” With humor in his voice he added, “And what are those little wheels attached behind the bigger wheels?” He went on telling of his own memories of those long ago days when such a contraption was not such a foreign sight.

The man looked at me and then at the children. He smiled, got in his car, and drove off. I chuckled when I realized that the man had forgotten why he had come to visit me. He never gave me the mini sermon and he forgot to leave the track.

Finally, I got back to the task at hand, walking back and forth, back and forth; all the while the children taking in the funny scene. I prayed for boredom to rain down upon them, but God must have been too busy laughing, because the children kept their watch.

By the time I made the final sweep, and the grass stood with its new crew cut, and looking quite fine; I had a new vision of a new mower. It would have a key electric start, and have front wheel drive. It wouldn’t be quite as entertaining, but….


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Verna Mull 02/18/10
That was the "good old days." And, yes, I remember the "Phew" part very well. When I was a kid, there wasn't a lot of lawn to mow, but when we moved to the farm on which we now live, it was about 3 times the size of the other one. I was 16 years old, and it was all my job. Now, if the mower was sharp, well that helped a whole bunch, but when i went away to school, there soon was a gas mower. Great job expressing this. Really got a charge out of the guy that forgot to give you the tract!
AnneRene' Capp02/19/10
Interestingly enough, I JUST FINISHED fighting with my lawnmower before sitting down to read the challenges. While out there contolling my temper, I told my neighbor how much I missed the "whirl" of a push mower along with the ability to USE IT! What timing...you definitely touched on a bygone era that most of us can relate to. I enjoyed your story very much and laughed out loud at your captivated audience of neighborhood kids.
Marie Fink02/19/10
Your story is engaging, especially when the children are curious and entertained.
Mark Bell02/19/10
THAT THING was fun. i've never actually used a reel mower, but i have thought about it as a special experience for my kids. well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/22/10
Oh you took me back. The first house I bought came with one of those mowers. You described it and the neighborhood children perfectly.
stanley Bednarz02/23/10
Kep doing "that thing" you do called writing. Nice job.

I live in the snow capital where we measure the snow by feet, not inches.
You had me dreamin of better days!