I am married to a "flower person."
I am not a "flower person."
Therein lies creative tension.
No, the phrase does not refer to hippiedom. My wife is far too young to have been a first-generation hippie, though her braided hair is a vestigial reminder that she did live in California during the 1970s.
I am old enough to have been out of college before hippiedom came into flower, and I was far too buried beneath the need to support several children to have been able to travel to rock concerts, smoke dope, etc. At most, I tie-dyed a few shirts and expanded my 1950s-era fondness for folk music.
No, the contentious "flowers" are just that, real flowers.
They bloom along several hundred feet of frontage beside the road in front of our house, painstakingly planted by my wife during season after season of hard work and loving care.
For some reason, I am not allowed to mow the portion of front yard that comes near to those flowers, except in late autumn, following the first hard freeze. At that time of year, I am permitted to set the mower deck to "high," then make successive passes and cut down the freeze-dried remnants in preparation for next spring's greening.
But at other times, I am not allowed anywhere near the 300 feet or so of roadside flowers.
This year, there has been an expansion.
It is some 600 feet from that road to the southern end of our property. Up until now, the only demarcation of the property line between our yard and the neighbor's field has been the change in texture between mown grasses (and weeds) and crops like soybeans, alfalfa or winter wheat.
Today, that boundary is almost marked by about two dozen tomato stakes and more than 60 cuttings of lilacs, daffodils, day lilies, etc.
Not yet planted are tiger lilies, petunias, hyacinths and the other species that now give us spring-to-fall coloration along the front-of-house flowerbeds.
But they will be planted.
Our poor neighbor stopped to ask if he had done anything wrong, to provoke us into putting up a fence of sorts.
"I just like flowers," said my wife.
I said nothing. I say nothing.
She diligently planted this new row a good three feet in from the survey-posted boundary line, so she could mow both sides of the planting while staying clearly on our property.
As it happens, I don't particularly like lilacs or daffodils, and I think the huge row of new plants looks scraggly and goofy.
But I said nothing. I say nothing.
You see, I have a weakness, a failing.
When I am on a riding mower, I tend to look through the bottoms of my bifocals, and I cannot clearly see everything that is directly in front of the mower.
Strictly by accident, of course, I have been known to mow over a daylily or lily of the valley, or, even worse, to nudge too closely to the 500 (!) blueberry bushes, nipping off a cane or two.
As punishment, I am no longer allowed to mow anywhere near the flower plantings, or the blueberry bushes.
A few times a year, the combination of bad weather for mowing and unforeseen demands on my wife's time force me to guide the zero-turn mower between the rows of blueberries or around the flower beds.
Invariably, some are damaged.
I am contrite. Penitent. Ashamed. Abashed.
I even grovel.
She is stern, unmoved, fierce in her fury.
"You shall NOT mow in those areas! When they need to be mowed, I shall do it!" she declaims, or words to that effect.
I meekly accept the verdict. If one person were to mow all the land that we mow, it would take eight hours. If both of us split the mowing, it should take about four hours. But, because this is how it is with wives, it started out that I had to mow about six hours' worth of grass, while she mowed about two hours' worth.
Now, thanks to my total incompetence at avoiding her plantings, I am permitted to mow only about five hours' worth, while she mows a full three hours' worth.
What do you suppose the odds are that, before this summer is done, I shall be banished even further from the 600 feet of new plantings? Why, my mower hours might even be reduced from five to four.
Oh, the horror.
Denny Bonavita is the editor and publisher of McLean Publishing Co. in west-central Pennsylvania, including the Courier-Express in DuBois.