An Enlightening Experience

From the days of mowing for old ladies, I eventually moved on to working for a landscape company as a foreman for their lawn-mowing crew.  At times there were three of us at a time, but usually only two when we were mowing lawns every day.  Usually I had a guy named Derek with me and we worked pretty good together.

Derek and I were working on some lawns one afternoon when the weather started to look menacing.  We were in the middle of mowing and could tell by the look of the sky that we were in for something pretty nasty.  We could hear thunder in the distance and it was getting more frequent as the storm moved closer.  But we pressed on, eyeing the sky every couple of minutes to gauge how much time we had before things cut loose.  As we finished mowing and got on the leaf blowers to scatter the cut-up grass in the yard, everything around us suddenly turned “weird”.  You know what I mean?  The color of everything around us became an odd yellowish color.  Even the air seemed to reflect it.  If you’ve seen that before, you know how creepy it makes you feel….a foreboding feeling that something ominous is getting ready to happen with the weather.  We knew we needed to wrap things up fast.  I had been praying for God’s protection the whole time and those prayers accelerated exponentially at that point.

Then I realized that everything around us had suddenly become very quiet and still.  Derek and I were about ten feet away from each other and I could see by the look on his face that same realization had just struck him as well.  It was at that point that I physically felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up.  Then, right above our heads somewhere very close came a flash of lightning immediately followed by a crack of thunder so loud that I felt my heart leave my body, do twenty-five jumping jacks, thirty push-ups and run a couple of full laps around the yard we were in before it returned from whence it came.  We looked at each other but a fraction of a second (with eyes as big as mower wheels) before we shut off our blowers and beat feet to the truck to get out of there.

As close as that was, however,  I remember most the yard with all the dog poo.  So what’s that all about?  Join me once again…..

Something To Be Thankful For

I’ll get to the other lawn mowing stories, but with Thanksgiving coming up this week, I wanted to share with you something that I am very thankful for.

I realize that this country has been in turmoil for quite some time with all of the political happenings, especially since the election has taken place.  We’ve all heard and seen the stories, from riots to universities actually coddling students with counseling, therapy dogs, coloring books and Play-doh (I can’t even comprehend that really happening, but it has).

As sad as it is that our universities treat our young adults like five-year-olds, what would really matter when push comes to shove?  We Americans still live in an amazing country–a country that has been through a lot and grown stronger as a result (granted, where we are now is pretty messed up, but we’re not about to give up now).  If America were to suddenly be threatened country-wide by a common enemy, a threat that meant each American had to fight for himself and defend his own household and his neighbor,  what would we see happen?  I believe that the vast majority of us would lock arms with our neighbor and stand together to fight for this land we call home.  Would it matter what our political stand was?  Would it matter what our religious beliefs were?  Would it matter what our position on education was?  Would anything else at all be as important in that moment?  I don’t believe it would–at all.  And that should speak volumes to us.

That is what I am so thankful for:  The American spirit.  There is something very unique and inspiring about the American spirit.  Remember the stories we all heard around 9/11?  Even though it was over fifteen years ago, I clearly remember all those people on United Airlines flight 93 who chose to fight back (and knowingly die in doing so) instead of letting those terrorists go through with their plan.  Where is that spirit today?  Oh, it’s there, but it’s dormant.  And it’s been dormant for far too long.  Do we need another national catastrophe to bring us together again?  How sad would it be that we let things get to that point before we do?

Let’s be proactive and lock arms now before something like that happens again.  Let’s move forward as what we are supposed to be:  The United States of America.

A Blade Too Long

I have been mowing lawns for a very long time now.  Of course, that started with our own lawn sometime in middle school.  Eventually that also included my grandparent’s lawn.  They lived a mile away from us in the small town of Bath (the very same Bath that I have previously mentioned in other stories).  I started mowing Grandma & Grandpa’s lawn sometime around my eighth-grade year with their Lawnboy mower.  That is when I discovered the degree to which I detest and abhor Lawnboy mowers.  You only need one part of your anatomy to be able to determine whether someone is using a Lawnboy or not:  your ears.  A Lawnboy engine will sound like it’s hovering just above the point of dying out and then kick itself up to purr like a moped, all within a five second time frame.  Over and over and over again.  I still shake my head in amazement.

Mrs. Garland was an elderly lady who lived across the street from my grandparents.  She liked the way I mowed their lawn, so she had me mow hers as well–with her riding lawn mower.  I was pretty confident in my abilities to handle her riding mower until I got it too close to the top of a small and extremely steep hill behind her house.  As I realized I was too close to the edge, gravity took the mower, blades still fully engaged, and myself, my foot mashing up and down on the brake pedal to no avail, for a three-second hair-raising ride to the bottom of the hill.  This, of course, left a nice wide swath of cut-up weeds and dirt behind me all the way down the hill.  The mower died at that point, which caused my heart to leap from my throat (where it had been for the ride down the hill) up into my left cheek.  I ran across the street and got Grandpa, who thankfully got everything fixed up and running again in no time (as Grandpas are supposed to do).

In spite of that incident, word still got out about my mowing prowess and I began mowing for another elderly lady about ten minutes away from home.  She had everything I needed to mow her yard and it was all electric.  All of it.  Including the mower.  Ever used one of those?  This was a decent one–on the small side-with a handle that could be moved to either side of the mower so that the mower didn’t even need to be turned around to mow the next row of grass.  But I found myself developing a certain sense of paranoia the more I mowed her yard.  If you use an electric mower, you need to always know where the electrical cord is that the mower is plugged into or you’ll have your own fireworks show and an imprint of the mower handle seared into your hands as the lawnmower runs over it.  More than once, it seemed like that cord picked itself up and moved closer to the blades of that mower!  (“Whaa??  Where did you come from?  Gittonouttahere!”).  I more and more found myself looking over my shoulder with a growing sense of uneasiness to see if that cord I had just passed that was ten feet away was now only five.  I only mowed one summer there.  Maybe that’s why.

I’ll share the culmination of my mowing experiences the next time we meet up!  Until then….

An Autumn Day Revisited

Autumn is a wonderful time of the year and is definitely considered my favorite, what with leading into the cozy winter weather that is so often associated with Christmas.

We didn’t get out for any Autumn camping this Fall, but it did bring to mind a camping incident that I shared with you a year ago. So, for your entertainment, here it is again:

My family and I just completed our only Autumn campout for the year this weekend. It was a great time with some really great people! Most of our Euchre Club were the other campers, so we decided to have it at the campground for this month. We were by a large gazebo shelter that had a lot of picnic tables under it, which we made use of for our Euchre Club night. (Certainly a first for all of us and probably a last as well, since we were fighting wind and rain during most of our time playing. We stayed dry and we didn’t lose any cards, but the rain on the metal roof was irritating and almost required the use of sign language to communicate).

Well, some things were left out at the end of the night that brought in some rather unruly and uncouth vagabonds. These infiltrators wore masks and moved about the gazebo under cover of the wind and darkness. The only problem with their plan was the wind had picked up again and was snapping a table cover like a whip in the air. This happened to not only be right by our camper, but right by our end of the camper. So I woke up at 2 a.m. to the sounds of thumping and snapping from inside the gazebo, along with noises here and there of things falling off tables and crashing onto the floor. Oh sure, they tried to time it so that it would look like the wind did it, but I was on to their silly little games. But being awakened like that reminded me of a camping incident from years ago….

My Mom’s brother and his family were visiting from Arizona. Both sets of parents decided that we would all go up to Wilderness State Park in the northern tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula and camp there. I’m not sure why, but my Mom and Dad decided that this time the four of us would stay in a tent instead of the pop-up camper that we had. It was an old canvas tent that was an old shade of yellow and the four of us just barely fit into it. My parents were on either end on cots and my brother and I were inbetween them on the tent floor.

Northern Michigan is beautiful country! The wilderness that surrounds you up there is breathtaking. But that also means that there are animals in that wilderness. Animals that don’t necessarily appreciate you treadin’ on their turf….crossing the line….gang wars and all that. We knew that we were in bear country–along with all kinds of other animals in their respective countries–so for a couple of early teenagers who knew that the woods surrounded three of the four sides of the campground (the fourth side being the beach of Lake Michigan), we went to bed with just a little trepidation.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I was slowly aroused from my slumber by a hideous growling and snarling that seemed to vary in pitch from deep disturbing tones of something big and ominous to higher tones of something small and ominous but with no less danger attached to it. At first it seemed to be coming from just outside the tent, which happened to be about a foot away from my head. As this realization began to cause my brain cells to fire in rapid succession, it seemed that whatever was just outside that tent wall was about ready to come tearing through that thin shell of old yellow canvas with razor-sharp teeth and claws, ready to carry off one of us into whatever country it had come from.

But as my disorientation became oriented and I finally got my bearings on where I was and what and who was around me, it slowly began to dawn on me what kind of creature this was that I was hearing with so great an interest. As I lay there listening to its sounds, I began to realize that this creature was leaping from one side of the tent to the other! And then, as I became fully awake (as hearing something so hair-raising will do to you), I finally came to the realization that at the same time this creature leapt to my Dad’s side, the lower tones were heard; and when it leapt over to my Mom’s side, the higher tones were heard. Amazingly, this creature’s growls and snarls coincided perfectly with the snoring that was coming from my parents as they blissfully slept their night away.

Another moment of being an unhappy camper…..