A Brief History of Ordinary Things – the lawnmower

How many miles have I walked with this lawnmower? How many kilos of grass have I lifted? How many seasons have come and gone whose passing has been marked by it’s melancholy drone? Summers and winters yes, but also the seasons of new home, new family, new schools, seasons of grief and joy, of fear and anticipation.

I remember the times when my CJ was so small, he was frightened by the sound. Then suddenly, he was big enough to walk alongside me holding down the drive bar. There was no conversation in those time, just his concentrated face and the satisfaction of a job shared and completed.

Now he uses the machine all by himself. Primes it. Starts it. Steers it. Sometimes without even being asked.

As I have walked in it’s tracks I have been schooled in how my neighbourhood has changed. Children who have now grown to adulthood, some with kids of their own. Neighbours who have come and gone, some to new communities, some just gone the way we all must.

And the trees that have extended their reach, now tracing the movement of the sun across greater and greater expanses of the garden. And here and there, much as humps and hollows have appeared on my own body, so have their roots made lined eruptions in the soil making me aware of all that happens underneath with the passing of time.

Here against this gable end I have played childish games with my own children, games which they are now too grown up for, or so I think. Games which I suspect I still need more than they.

Now that old lawnmower, once sporting a proud, shiny red engine casing, is battered and rusted but still capable of doing a half decent job, so long as I pay a bit more attention to it. Soon I’ll pack it away for the winter, sure in the knowledge that come the spring when I’ll need it again I’ll have to cajole it energetically from it’s cold weather slumber.

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