I’ve just come in from doing my weekly “lawn service” chores. At this time of year that is reduced to “raking” leaves and pine straw off the yard and driveway. I say “raking.” That’s what it used to be. Now it’s blowing. No one rakes much of anything anymore, everyone blows their leaves, grass clippings (snow) with a gasoline or electric powered blower. It isn’t quite the exercise that raking was, but it is almost as satisfying to see the cleared area when you are finished.
I really enjoy doing yard work. For over 40 years I went to an office every day (a whole lot of weekends too) and at the end of the day was left with many things to re-do the next day. Everything required review, revision, further analysis, more editing, comments from the client and more revision. And, of course, the client wanted all of it “yesterday.” With yard work you can look back at the end of a particular chore and see what you have accomplished. You might go back and trim a little more but at the end of the day, the job is done. And there is no client. (There is a wife, but that’s different.) While you have to do the same chore again the next week, it’s not the same as arriving at the end of the day knowing you are not done and that tomorrow you will have to review, revise, redraft, correct, discuss, revise again and still wonder when you are “done” if you have adequately covered all of the necessary points. Then at three in the morning you awaken to again consider the myriad of details hoping that you have covered them all appropriately. Not so with yard work. Yard’s mowed. Won’t think about it again until next week. Yard’s trimmed, done for a week. Bushes trimmed, they look neat and I did it. Of course, if you were making your living doing yard work for others, you might worry about the business of doing yard work. But as a home owner, these are of no concern.
For some reason it irritates my wife that I insist on doing my own yard work instead of hiring a service to do it for me. She alleges that the reason she wants a lawn service is her fear that I’ll have a heart attack, stroke or something. I think it’s because she doesn’t think I do the same job those “professionals” do. After all, the lawn mowing part is done by me sitting on my Cub Cadet rider mower. The “raking” is accomplished with a gasoline powered blower and the bush trimming is done with a gasoline powered clipper (and some minor hand trimming). If I have a stroke out there, I was as likely going to have it sitting on the couch.
As I do these tasks with my enhanced power driven equipment, my mind often wanders back to when I was a kid and had my own fledgling lawn service in which I would go around the neighborhood asking to mow yards to get some spending money. In those days we had a push mower that had metal wheels, cogs , blades and a handle that was made of wood with a cross piece bolted to it for grips. At nine or ten or so, that bolt was just the right place to hit you in the chest when the wheels locked up from running over a stick. I’m surprised I didn’t grow a bone spur on my sternum. When I was “finished,” the old lady (probably all of fifty years old) would inspect the job and always find something I didn’t do right (usually a legitimate find). After I did or re-did what she wanted, while missing out on the pick-up baseball game the neighborhood kids were playing, she gave me the fifty cents I charged and said “don’t forget next week.” Shoveling walks in the winter had much the same story just different equipment (no snow blowers in those days). I haven’t seen a kid mow a yard in years. While we don’t have snow down here, I don’t remember seeing a kid shovel a walk in the last few decades I lived up North, either.
Around here it costs about $70 + a week for a lawn service to come do what I do. Granted with two or three people doing the mowing, blowing and trimming it gets done quicker, but I contend they don’t do as good a job as I do because it isn’t their yard. At $70 a week, it didn’t take long for me to amortize my mower, blower and trimmer and $70 worth of gas and oil covers most of the in-season work. Ultimately, I will no doubt reach a point in life where infirmities or the inevitable will put an end to my doing my own yard work. Then there will be plenty of time to hire “professionals” to do those enjoyable tasks they call work.