15 May 2005

Never underestimate the value of neighbors.

We have a great little town. Last week, one of the neighborhood parents gathered up all of the kids and took them to the ballpark for a pickup game. Last night we started the progressive bonfire. A different yard every week. Last night, due to crappy weather, we sat inside and lit a candle.
Its been raining in this part of Minnesota for the better part of a week. Today, the sun shone, and it had a very odd effect on our town. In the fifteen minutes immediately following the dismissal of the local churches, there was the noise of mowers starting all over town. We had other matters to attend to. All of the kids wound up returning home within about a half hour. We got to spend a little time with my folks as they returned my brood. As they were leaving, Kyle was called to Mark's rescue. He had borrowed Bob's riding mower, and had a blowout with the trailer on the way home. When kyle returned from that, he set to work to start ours for the first time this season. Like many others, we had missed the 6 hour window of opportunity to mow earlier in the week, so our yard looked more like it needed a baler.
Let it be known that my husband can set a Macintosh spinning to complete nearly any task worth doing; however, when it comes to mechanics, he is a bit challenged. He got the mower started on the first or second pull, but it let out quite a nasty squeal. The recoil had come unsprung. Kyle dismantled, adjusted and reassembled the unit in a time and effort that would have made the editors of Popular Mechanics smile.
Meanwhile, the neighbors, who actually enjoy mechanical tinkering, had toted their two mowers up to the old service station garage. A gentleman here in town uses it as a hobby shop, and there are all manner of dirt bikes, go-karts, mowers, snowmobiles, and classic cars in various stages of restoration there. The boys next door, single dad and two teen sons, were each manning a mower or trimmer of some sort that they had refurbished and fired up for the afternoon.
Our mower was now chugging along. The tires were quite worn, and Kyle headed off to put air in them. He did not expect them to drive completely off the rim, leaving a trail of reddish pink goo in his wake. We still don't know what that was. Deteriorated inner tube? Ancient fix-a-flat? Whatever, it was nasty.
It holds true that you can't look a gift mower in the mouth. Our pastor gave us use of an old riding mower in exchange for mowing the lawn at church. This is another side benefit of a small town. That mower eventually sputtered out. Another one, quite similar, lived in the shed across the alley from us, which happened to belong to pastor's brother. It was scrounged out and put into service. We also have a push mower that hasn't started in a couple of years, mostly because it hasn't been needed with the other. Cursory attempts were made to press it into service today, but soon abandoned. Defeated, Kyle went back in the house to attempt something constructive.
I kept on plugging through yard chores planned by Murphy himself. As Kyle could not get the mower going, I thought I'd at least get started with the trimmer. At least I would have if I could have found it. I then thought I'd cull some dead branches, but the bypass shears had apparently nipped off with the trimmer to yard-tool Vegas or somewhere else with better prospects than my shed or basement. I was now left with either the electric hedge trimmer or chain saw, either of which I would have gladly put to use if every single drop cord that we own was not neatly packed in a rubbermaid tub in the DJ van, which Kyle's DJ partner is currently driving. I finally busied myself throwing some yard waste into the trailer bound for the compost heap, and got the recycling out to the curb. Meanwhile, the neighbor was mowing my boulevard (tangent: I grew up calling the strip of land between the sidewalk and the street the "terrace;" in these parts, it is called the "boulevard." I am told in other parts of the country, it is called the "parking." Whatever you call it, the municipality tends to get cranky if you don't maintain it, but the same municipality doesn't let you plant or build anything on it.) I stopped to thank the neighbor, and shared the mower mishap with him. Before I finished the story, he had both riders up on blocks and was switching out parts to make a functional model. Kyle came back out and chipped in, and started mowing when Frankenmower was completed. I fed the kids, then switched off as Kyle ferried them off to church for King's Kids. Once again, the neighbor and his kid were tandem mowing, this time on my lawn. They continued alongside me and we got our four-lot yard mowed in about twenty minutes. I bought them a pop from our machine (another of my husband's clever trade acquisitions, I think he has $14.50 invested in it.) and met the family at church for coffeetime. I love my town.

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