Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Ode to a dead free lawnmower

My lawnmower died. Well, the motor part is still working, but the handle snapped clean in half. It actually died about a month ago, just as I was starting the back lawn. Because I am stubborn, and because I suffered some sort of delusion that I could let the lawn go for the season after the end of August, I bent over double and pushed my half-a-lawnmower back and forth for the better part of an hour to finish the job. A lawnmower with an 18 inch handle cutting 6 inch thick grass takes a lot more effort than you might suppose.

So, sadly, I had to put the lawnmower (technically, the two halfs of my ex lawnmower) out on the curb on garbage day. Which seems appropriate, really, because that's where I got it in the first place. About a year and a half ago, I was walking home from picking up Tristan at daycare one day, and there it was, sitting at the end of someone's driveway with a "FREE" sign taped to it. Free, I might have mentioned previously, is one of my favourite words.

So I snagged it. Did I mention that I was pushing the double stroller at the time? And that I had the dog with me? We got some priceless looks that day, our little caravan with me pushing the double carrying about 70 lbs of chubby babies and restraining the 100 lbs dog on her leash with one hand, dragging the free lawnmower behind us with the other hand. But did I mention FREE?

For what it's worth, and to provide you with an accurate record of my complete history of lawnmower ownership (hey, it's not easy coming up with something to write *every*single*day* you know), my first ever own lawnmower was also free. Well, it wasn't exactly mine, but a loaner from the benevolent ÜberGeek. When I scored a free lawnmower of my own, I sent that one back into rotation among the mowerless. Everybody deserves at least one free lawnmower in a lifetime, don't you think?

Our driveway donor lawnmower lasted an impressive two full summers before giving up the grass last month. Since it perished at the end of August, I was pretty sure we could just let the lawn go native for a few weeks and soon those long, waving blades would be buried under an avalanche of snow. Nice theory, except this is the endless summer of 2005, where it tops out at 26C in October. In OCTOBER!

I knew I had to do something when I'd let the dog out into the back yard and lose her in the meadow. And tall grass makes a great hiding spot for poop-bombs, turning a quick pick-up into a search and destroy mission. I had to finally give in and borrow my folks' lawnmower on the weekend. And I discovered that most wondrous of grass-cutting options, the mulch. No more projectile grass cuttings! No more digging the swing and slide out from green haystacks after every lawn trim. (Um, yes, we really do have to work at cutting the grass more frequently.) Mulching rules!

I was going to write this post yesterday and solicit your lawnmower feature recommendations. But showing my usual lack of impulse control, when we went to Canadian Tire last night to see what remainders might still be hiding amidst the newly arrived snow blowers and Christmas decorations, I found a display model identical to the one I had borrowed from my parents, and they were willing to knock 15% off the price to be rid of it. So I bought it.

So now that it's too late, tell me anyway what's your favourite lawnmower feature? I personally am deathly afraid of gas mowers, so I was happy to snag an electric. (The boys - all three of them - heavily advocated for a ride-on, but I don't think our yard is large enough to allow for a turning radius.) I opted not to get the bag feature at the back and saved a stunning $12 more.

More importantly, how old do you think the boys have to be before I can force them (ahem, politely request their assistance) to cut the grass? I remember doing it at age 10 or 11, but I figure they're big boys, I can start 'em early.

I should've got the model with the harness.

Edited to add: here's a better question. What's the best FREE thing you ever got??