Saturday, August 30, 2014

Slaughter the Meadow

The spigot on the house has a three-way attachment.  A while ago I got a the female end of a hose stuck on to one of the male spigots. The other end of the hose had been run over, so I re-circle-ated it and got a sprinkler seriously stuck on the male hose end.  The other two spigots (in what is turning out to be an overly sexual discussion of watering my lawn) have waterballoon-filling attachments (or at this point we'll just call waterballoons condoms).  One of those nozzles leaks and rather than water our basement foundation every time I water my lawn, I stick a bucket underneath it.  This pretty periwinkle blue bucket fills at a rate of once an hour which I then dump on favorite plants outside the semi-circle range of the sprinkler and in places that no longer get water because I mowed over too many parts of the sprinkler system.  We never dug the thick black hoses in to the ground because we have five acres and only two of us and we have other things to do, like watch youtube videos of old They Might Be Giants concerts and figure out which outfits still fit.  And also because our division of labor is that Huck takes care of the serious, non-sprinkler oriented irrigations and I mow the lawn to which he is allergic.  We sort of have two different perspectives on irrigation lines and their destiny as relates to the ground, above or below.
Mission Beach! Kids on boards behind us!

Now understand that if we did not irrigate we would live in a dust pile.  We already live in a dust pile, but irrigation ensures that it includes dusty trees and shrubs.  It is nice to imagine that without contraptions and civilization and modern conveniences we'd be living in a paradise where a meal was as easy as reaching up into the trees.  But here, in the time and place in which I actually live, we rely on electricity to power the well which pumps a glorious 45 mpg and could potentially create a lush Eden out of our little slice o'paradise... except that I minced the irrigation lines. And I am really sorry about that.
Coyote standing on his own two feet

Generally, I love, and have always loved, mowing the lawn.  I longed for the chore when I was a kid, even throwing a tantrum one late summer afternoon when I was called in to set the table and/or make the salad while my brother was made to mow the lawn.  I wanted a chore swap, yelled and cried for a chore swap, called them sexists and said they were preventing both of us from being complete individuals.  Also, I loved the wild, juicy, green smell of mowed lawn and and I wanted in on that.  But I was told they feared me running over my foot with the mower.  Ok.  So.  I was  a little dreamy and my head was in the clouds and I admit that there may have been some likelihood of that, given the number of time I sliced myself making our nightly salads. I suppose we can call ourselves lucky that, to-date, I have only wounded irrigation lines, lines that I have so diligently tried to avoid, leaving narrow strips of unmowed mohawks across the lawn.

This shell doesn't sound right
Luckily, neither husband has fought me for mowing rights.  On Orcas Island, when my first husband was in Alaska "working" that last summer, I was given a lawn mower, a very exciting, self-propelled thing that dragged me on many adventures.  But it threw spark plugs which I would go in search of and pick up and burn the prints off my fingertips.  Until I got wise and kept an oven mitt handy whenever I mowed the lawn.  But I tired of playing with spark plugs and I brought it in to get fixed.  The shop estimated $70 which seemed fair.  But when I picked it up the invoice was for $140! Twice as much!  And I rightfully demanded an accounting.  And that man, (He was a fat man and I use that term in the worst possible way with every negative connotation because once someone pisses me off, any trait is fair game as an insult: skinny, fat, blond, brunette, woman, man, freckled, tan, et al.  Any trait I normally don't give a flicking flea about becomes an insult, when provoked.) that fat man leaned his head back and laughed AT me, "Well, that was $70 to fix.  You wanted us to put it back together again, didn't you?"  I didn't want to pay, didn't think I should have to, but I wanted my mower back, my lovable, surprising, adventuresome, self-propelled mower.  So I paid. And that is life on an island.  There is only one place to get your wagon fixed and they'll charge whatever they damn well please.

Mulin Rouge Sunflower
Huck and I moved out here with only our reel mower, from our tiny Pullman yard.  It was obviously inadequate to the task.  Sure, the cows once took care of 3 acres, but a reel mower is still not up to 2 acres.  And it may not have been adequate for the 1/16th acre Pullman postage stamp yard either, now that I think of it.  The old owners left us their lawn mower, which was so nice, especially since it never worked.  Eventually I bought my nifty old riding lawn mower from a friend's father-in-law.  He'd bought a new one and offered us this one for a fair price.  Unfortunately, at that moment, we didn't have a fair price in our account.  Then he called me up! "Listen, I've got cancer.  I'm going in for radiation tomorrow.  I just want this thing out of my garage.  Would you please just take advantage of me?"  This was supposed to encourage me?! I'm no island mechanic.  I almost fainted with the stress.  But I rallied and stammered out a ridiculously low price figuring he'd bargain me up, but instead he said, "Great, I'll bring it by on my way to the hospital tomorrow."  Oh, shit, delivery too.

And that's how I got "Sexy Dude" (named after Patsy Cline's car... I think, I can't remember now.)  I spray painted it pink but with all the dust it just looks like unwashed red.  It's got a wonky tire that my dad taught me how to change, which sort of redeems that major gender/chore fuck up of my youth.

Zinnia
I promised the Weed Board (Blue would say here: "NO! Not THAT kind of Weed Board!") that I would mow my lawn... er weeds, by two days ago.  We only maintain 20 feet of fire-break lawn around the house, the rest is dusty "meadow" full of skeleton weed that the Weed Board wants gone, by hook or by crook.  We've looked in to renting goats (no one in this household is in the mood for owning our own livestock these days) but that's too expensive.  Spraying is the long term, but very unfortunate, plan.  For now, a few gallons of gas and some extra pounds of greenhouse gases and everyone will be happy, right?  But instead of mowing skeleton weed around defunct irrigation lines (that, I swear, I tried sooo hard to avoid!), I'm writing a blog about the pretty blue bucket that collects the dripping water and in which I found two stiff drowned mice that for all appearances look like they tried to poop their way out either through propulsion or possibly by making a pile high enough to jump off.  And also, there was, prophetically, one stunned praying mantis, bobbing vertically like a buoy.

Standing by the 6' Rudbeckia
 Addendum:  I wrote this, then Coyote re-commandeered the computer to finish off his summer vacation in style. Now I'm back, but the hiatus basically forced me to mow the "meadow," (not the field, no, not the field. The field will require heavy farm machinery at this point).  This meadow turned out to be very rich habitat which I utterly destroyed over the course of three days. At times I felt I was herding grasshoppers this way and that with each pass.  I involuntarily ran over many praying mantisi, I would try to stop and let them crawl to safety, but they often did not know which direction that was and got mowed on the next pass.  I tried to help one particular mantis several times but in the end, as he crawled on two legs, his wings shredded, I just ran over him on purpose. One flew up on my leg and looked me in the eye.  I imagine it was quite a spiritual experience for her, like seeing god in the eye of a tornado.  She was clearly asking me to stop with the slaughter; how would she find a husband's head to eat after mating?!  But I was god in this situation; I didn't have to stop.  And also, the Weed Board was breathing down my neck.  I kept mowing.  I also ran over several butterflies, eventually I hit and mangled two rainbows, and finally took out the last remaining unicorn.  I feel like an asshole.  But, after mowing, the yard was filled with gleeful quail dashing from maimed insect to maimed, immobilized insect.  The ring necked doves and finches twirled and dove overhead.  All the birds were looking at me like I was god, like I'd just bestowed the best blessing they've ever received.  They looked me in the eye and sang little bird songs of thanks and praise to their goddess. It was nice.

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