Mowing the meadows – a photo post

Some days have a story in them, waiting to be told. Yesterday was such a day. So here’s a ‘click to enlarge’ photo post, telling the story of yesterday:

It was a great day to ‘go mowing’. Lots of clouds, highs in the low 70’s. I knew I had to get it done, and it was a good day to do so.

So after a good “farmer’s breakfast”, and a few minutes with my sweetheart watching cooking shows (which we jokingly term ‘Saturday Morning Cartoons’), I headed out to the barn to wake up the Kubota.

After the usual preflighting, it was off to the driveway apron to warm up while I got my hearing and sun protection gear.

First we went up to the upper meadow to mow the tansy that had grown up since my last mowing. I swear, this year it is prolific and tenacious; it was up there going ‘neener-neener-neener’ at me. Time to teach it who’s the man with the mowing machine. In years past, I’d never have to touch it a second time.

That done, it was time to trim the front meadow. As I made a pass round the outside perimeter, I was struck by its simple beauty, its simple existence as a meadow. So I pulled the phone from my pocket and made a snapshot before I mowed:

Oftentimes as I mow, it strikes me that I am merely the caretaker of this land, and not its owner; for God is its true owner, and I am merely trying to keep it at its best for when it passes to its next caretaker.

It is at this point when I am thankful for the tools I have been given. For my knees aren’t as perfect as they were when I was younger, and my arthritic hands show the ravages of years. My old tractor, although much easier to mount and dismount, had a short and narrow wheelbase; when combined with the rough meadows and the tough native grasses, it beat me up to such a point that I typically felt like I’d gone a round with a prizefighter. In contrast, the reliable Kubota runs well, always starts, and gives a smooth, reliable mowing without me having to go back and re-do areas. And it never bogs down and dies, which was a true and frequent frustration with the old Deere. Even though I have a few aches for a day or so, it’s nothing in comparison with the half-dead feeling I used to have. It also gets me done at least couple hours, yes; a couple hours, sooner.

Yet as I begin to mow the back meadow, I again cannot help but appreciate the simple beauty of its wildness as I begin. This is a view you only get from the seat of the tractor. As rough as the meadows are, it’s just no fun to go walking down by the fence.

And sometimes it comes at a cost: as I was mowing the first pass along the outside, a long blackberry cane (despite my best efforts) got between me and my tractor’s rollover bar and insidiously hooked itself around my shoulders and both arms. It took several minutes of careful work, while handicapped by both the pain and the inability to get a good hold on the cane with my arthritic fingers, to finally get free. Several times I contemplated reaching for the loppers that I keep in a holster on the rollover bar to cut myself free, but each time I reached for them, the cane tightened its grip, the myriad thorns digging in harder and deeper into my clothes and skin.

Blackberries have two kinds of canes: runners and bearers. In the snapshot above, you can see the runners hanging out, looking for an open patch of ground to claim, or something to grab onto. Like a guy on a tractor…

I finally got free, and as a reminder of that experience, have several thorn tips embedded in my fingers and arms. Fortunately the ones that dug into my back left only deep scratches and didn’t go in deep enough for the thorn tips to snap off. I did get my revenge: the blackberries are coming on, and I had a minor feast:

The berries this year aren’t as sweet as they were last year – because of fewer sunny days. Last year at this time, we were almost five months into a drought; but you know what – I’ll take a cooler summer any time.

I’m also not showering until Monday morning before work – I know all those scratches are going to burn like fire and hurt like heck unless I give them a chance to heal a bit first.

And today as I began to compose this post, things look cleaner and neater, and Dara has been enjoying running across ‘her’ meadow.

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