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Getting used to my new summer gig

Getting used to my new summer gig Getting used to my new summer gig

Back in May, I wrote about “cleaning out a garden” for my mother-in-law in Medford, and how that not-so-simple task took a toll on my aging, desk-bound body. The nice thing is, its not even 60 days later, and I can already see the fruits (i.e. pretty flowers) of my labor in full bloom.

Between then and now, I’ve replenished the supply of red wood chip mulch in all the garden beds, yanked dozens of stubborn weeds out of the ground and clipped the heads off several withering flowers. I also learned that this is called “dead-heading,” which just makes me think of a certain rock band from the 1960s fronted by Jerry Garcia.

The gardening work is just one part of a full-fledged summer job I’ve acquired at my mother-in-law’s place. Besides the many flower beds, she also has a healthy-sized lawn that needs mowing on a weekly basis. Compared to the gardening, this is more my style. I like being able to just rip the pull-cord on the mower, rev up the motor and start plowing through rows of grass. I don’t have to worry about stepping on daffodils, pansies or any other kind of ornamental flower as I make my way through the yard.

Of course, there are some obstacles to work around, like trees, a big bush with sprawling branches and a few of those annoying little flags stuck into the ground by utility companies. But, for the most part, I can just walk behind the selfpropelled mower and enjoy the gradual emergence of a freshly-cut lawn. There are few sights more satisfying than a newly-shorn yard with neat little rows of lawnmower tire tracks.

When combined with the smell of gasoline and the aroma of newly mowed grass, there’s no better definition of summer in my mind. Lawnmowing is actually how I got my start in the “working world,” way back when I was around 12 years old. It started with me earning an allowance for my mowing my own family’s yard, and then I added a “client” when my grandmother down the street agreed to pay me $15 per mowing. She had a particularly difficult yard, with a steep hill into the back yard, which was often half-flooded and dotted with stepping stones I had to manually move out of the way before mowing.

At some point, I was mowing two different neighbors’ lawns as well, earning a tidy sum for myself by the time I was 13. Many years later, during a summer break from college, I joined my hometown’s parks department, and spent three months cutting and trimming grass around the city.

So, this summer gig working for my mother-in-law is actually very nostalgic. I’d like to say it makes me feel like a kid again, but as I mentioned before, my body will regularly remind me otherwise.