I was reminded recently of an old, old truth: When we learn how to turn misfortune into opportunity, we have touched one of the great secrets of victorious living. Over the years, I’ve learned that a tool or machine is like an attitude: sometimes the best way to fix one is to just get a new one. Now, this is not an election-year story of rags to riches or of fame to shame. Just a man and his mower. Well, former mower…
I bought my small Yard Man riding mower, used, several years ago. Aside from being small, noisy, underpowered and ragged looking, it was a great little mower. No, wait, it was also hard to steer and had the same turning radius as a Ford F-350 SuperCab. Other than those few drawbacks, it was almost ideal. For the relatively small yard we had where we lived then, its thirty-two inch swath was fine, certainly saving me time and labor over the twenty-two inch push mower from WalMart.
When we moved over to the quasi-country place we have now, it was not quite so fine. Going from a tenth-of-an-acre to an acre-and-a-half was quite a change. My mowing time went from thirty minutes to two hours. I began to lose my enthusiasm for keeping the place neat and trim.
A month ago, as I was mowing along the edge of the driveway, I noticed the mower seemed to lose power and run rough. I was nearly finished anyway, so I continued without a great deal of alarm or concern. That pair showed up early in the next mowing, though.
By the time I’d finished my second sweep across the front yard, the mower was shaking heavily. Halfway through the third lap, it was shaking violently. I don’t suppose a four-cycle Briggs and Stratton motor can vomit but this one was definitely trying. Just into the fourth and final lap, the thought occurred to me, “I’ve got a leg on each side of this engine. If it explodes, I’m going to catch shrapnel in at least one leg.”
Cheered by that notion, I yanked the lever to disengage the blade and headed up the slope to the garage. I’d barely cleared the edge of the grass when the mower took its few surrendering heaves. It died on the gravel driveway, only forty feet from the garage door.
I’ve no complaints, really. A three hundred dollar riding lawn mower that lasts six or seven years is not a bad deal. I bear neither bitterness nor resentment toward its failure. In fact, I’m grateful… every time I start up my brand new John Deere D140 with hydrostatic drive and forty-eight inch cut.