5-5-2017-4-38-39-PM-4996850

To understand husbands, start with the lawn

Wives just don’t get why lawns are so important to men.

Honestly, I am not sure why lawns are so important to men,

either. But I do know that the lawn is the front line in manhood. Machismo.

Masculinity. Gallantry.

I remember the first time my dad showed me how to mow the

law. Of course, back in the early 1960s, we didn’t use a gas mower. That was

too costly. We used a push mower, with blades attached to the wheels that

turned when you pushed and the wheels turned.

My dad would point to the neighbors. The homes with neatly

cut lawns were respectful. The ones that looked like prairies were where

trouble would always be.

And you know what? It was true. The kids in the neatly

managed lawns were nicer, more polite and respectful. The kids in homes with

“distressed lawns” had troubled kids. I can see those kids sitting in jail

wondering what caused their lives to go so wrong.

I bought a push mower a few years ago and sure enough,

“Afib” nailed me. I had a mitral valve repair, and the push mower got all the

blame. It could have been that dozens of Diet Cokes I drank daily. Nawwww! It

was the push mower.

But my dad told me that your home is your castle and the

lawn is the front sign that reflects that home to the world. Since then, I have

always planned my spring, summer and fall schedules around mowing the lawn,

making time to get it done.

And you just don’t “mow” the lawn, either. It’s a science.

You divide the lawn into square or rectangular sections. You cut each grouped

meticulously.

If you have a good mower, you can edge the lawn without Step

2, using the edger.

You have to fertilize at least three times a year, spring,

summer and fall. And the height of the grass cut changes. You cut higher in the

beginning of the mowing season and low at the very end.

Get rid of the dandelions. Pull the weeds. It doesn’t matter

if you cut straight or believe that the diagonal cut looks better.

There is nothing like a freshly cut lawn with its rows of

light and dark cuts (caused by the direction of the mower), and that fresh

smell of grass cuttings.

I use a mulcher, a lawn mower that not only cuts the lawn

but dices up the cuttings as you push over the grass. I don’t do that because

it’s easier than raking and bagging the clippings. I do that because the grass

mulching left on the lawn serves to keep nutrients in the lawn.

A good lawn mower lasts about six to seven years. The back

wheels should be larger than those in the front. Last week, I went to Menards

and purchased a mulcher with all-wheel drive.

My wife chided me and asked why I haven’t spent any time

looking for an AWD SUV to replace the main car?

Little do you know, woman! (Don’t tell her I said that. She

will get really mad.)

Lawnmowers are dangerous, though. You have to watch the

blades. Years ago my cousin came from Venezuela to visit and he was obsessed

with the lawn mower, watching me mow the lawn each week.

He wanted to do it and I said yes. He was at my mom’s home

insisting on mowing the lawn when the grass bunched up, he bent down to pull

the grass out. Fortunately, the staff at Christ Hospital put both fingers back

and they worked great.

I walk the lawn before mowing just to make sure there are no

baby rabbits or fallen birds in the grass. I managed to spot a frog and a

garter snake, saving their lives.

Mowing the lawn is good exercise, too. It is more than 6,500

steps, according to my Fitbit watch.

Mowing the lawn. It’s a man thing. I enjoy it.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author and

former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at [email protected]

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