"Row, row ... row your yard ..."
You don't remember the lyrics to the old song being quite like that?
Well, you don't live out in the sticks, do you?
In the sticks, at least this week, I shall "row" while I "mow."
That will happen because, for most of last week, the yard was unmowable due to drenching rains or their aftereffects.
So, when I mow, the grass will sort of splut out of the side discharge chute, leaving a row.
That, I am told, is unsightly.
People will think that we are slobs - I am told.
People will think that our yard has been mowed. That is my reply.
That gets me nowhere in the argument.
We are supposed to mow with the mower height set at "5" or even "6" so that the mower will not leave rows, I am told.
Gasoline costs more than $3.50 a gallon. If I mow with the mower set higher than "3" or "4," I will need to mow again soon, probably within days. Keep in mind that, if one person mows all there is to mow, it takes that person between eight and nine hours. We mow a lot of yard.
We do not mow lawn.
As I have observed before, "lawn" has grass. "Yard" has dandelions (useful for salads), plantain (useful as a chewed poultice for stings), crabgrass (useful for nothing), quackgrass (useful for eradicating every other species of grass). "Yard" also has a bare spot where second base is (or was), and might conceal an old bicycle chain or a long-lost screwdriver.
Out our way, "yard" also has the never-beaten-down crop ditches that used to separate the farm fields into sections. Annddd ittttt hasssss bummmmmmpppssss, too. The grasses and weeds were allowed to take root wherever, long before we arrived, without a lot of attention being paid to harrowing, dragging, rolling and other turf-smoothing techniques.
It is not that we do not like alcoholic beverages. We have been known to hoist a brew or two. But despite the cup holders placed on the riding mowers by the manufacturers, we do not take our brewskis with us becaussseeee ourrrr yarrrdddd hasssss bummmmmmpppssss. If we took our brewskis with us while a-mowing, we would soon be wearing the brew, which tends to defeat the purpose of taking it with us. While beer might be useful for fish-battering, it has no beneficial effects as a sun blocker, at least not to my knowledge.
In recent days, I have been chatting with some of my citified acquaintances who are told by city governments that they must mow their grass before it reaches a certain height.
They seek sympathy.
"Hah!" I retort. "Try to live with being told that you must: 1. Mow so that the yard looks kempt; 2. Do not mow so as to leave a row. 3. Keep enough cash on hand to take the row-hating person out in search of battered fish, thereby limiting the amount left over that is available for gasoline."
"Imposserous!" to quote the late, great Bert Lahr, he of the Cowardly Lion in "Wizard of Oz."
She is not dissuaded.
"The yard will look like a hayfield!" she declaims.
Umm ... we live with hayfields. In fact, across the road, we own one. Down the road, up the road, there are hayfields. There is nothing disgraceful, or even very out-of-place, in having a yard that looks somewhat like a hayfield, when one lives in the neighborhood of hayfields.
Besides, every hayseed knows that the windrows of hayfields are much wider than are the windrows from riding mowers. They are further apart, too. Heck, not distinguishing between yards and hayfields is about as amateurish out our way as not being able to tell, while driving by at 35 mph, which of the cattle in the nearby field are steers, and which are bulls.
City slickers might notice our rows of grass, of course. However, they are passers-by, not to be confused with neighbors, some of whom actually grow hay, but not in their yards or in their lawns.
Once the grass has been cut, I don't even notice whether all the cuttings have magically fluttered down into the thatch, or whether they remain in military-like rows.
One remedy might be to hook up the lawn sweeper and sweep up the clippings, which can be used for compost or for chicken feed.
Not these days.
Not with gasoline at or above $3.50 per gallon.
Yes, we have hand rakes. But using them takes time as well as muscle. In spring, what with all the work needed in the gardens and around the house, raking rows of already-cut grass seems silly, especially when there will be, sooner or later, winds of 35 mph or more to scatter the chaff.
So when I mow, I also row, at least until the arrival of another old song, "It ain't gonna rain no mo, no mo."
Denny Bonavita is the editor and publisher of McLean Publishing Co. in west-central Pennsylvania, including the Courier-Express in DuBois.