Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grass Clippings

For most people, cutting the grass is not a significant event.  As a matter of fact, as much as we wish for the grass to become green after the cold of winter, wishes become complaints of time spent mowing it.  Prompted by the noise of lawn mowers and the smell of grass clippings, I went to the garage to begin the first chore of spring.  Today, for me, was a significant day of grass cutting.  Not only is it the first time the grass needed cut for spring, it was the first time I was able to do it in two years.  The last time that I cut the grass is deep in my memory.  It was a turning point that would begin an unknown journey down the road of cancer.  Isn't it strange how certain things like that trigger a memory?  A chore, a sound, a smell?

Two years ago, the tractor broke down while my husband (who usually cuts the grass) was out of town.  I got the push mower working and began the task of making our yard match the neighbor's fresh cut level.  I was tired that day and so the work seemed difficult.  The fact that I had to use the push mower added to the difficulty.  That, and our yard exists on a slope.  By the time I was done, my arms were stiff  and my chest felt the pain of pushing a mower up a hill for two hours.  The pain I felt lasted for days.  I was a little out of shape and so like anyone else, I figured the pain would diminish in time to cut the grass again.   That was the last time I used the lawn mower. 

That pain never went away and led me into the beginning of my journey of illness.   Other symptoms arrived shortly after cutting the grass that day two years ago.  My arm swelled and the sleeves on my tops grew uncomfortably tight.  My fatigue continued that summer and the yard became a burden.  Normally I have spent hours in the garden, unaware of the sun setting on the day.  That summer I could no longer even pull the weeds.  Finally I was treated for a case of cellulitus in my arm, and went on a few rounds of antibiotics.  Later, a lump found in the shower and swollen lymph nodes proved to be cancer.  The grass continued to grow longer than usual that summer.  I spent fewer days outside in the sun.  As the grass grew and the weeds replaced a garden absent its tender, the neighbors noticed.

Last year, the grass grew.  The neighbors came and cut the grass.  Friends came and pulled the weeds.  Sunflowers grew in the untended garden from seeds that had fallen over the winter as birds fed.  As I went to the hospital for chemotherapy day after day, the chores got done by those who stepped in to help.  My husband too, found relief in the care of friends and neighbors who got the things done he had no time to do while caring for me.  All summer last year, our lawn mower sat cold in the garage.  The old tractor that didn't work that one day I needed it to, was adopted  and found a new home.

After many spring rains, the grass has grown tall after a long winter slumber.  A day of sun mixed with storms offered a short window to get outside.  The gas container was still full after sitting untouched for two summers.  A new strength has replaced my fatigue this season.  It feels strange to begin to do the things others have done for me for so long.  I have no time line to complete my chores as I once did before I became sick.  My priorities have shifted, but my new strength enables my independence again.  I must find my way back into the habits of the seasons. 

With a few pulls of the string, the cold mower resists.  I'm about to give up, when the last pull starts the engine.  It sputters after being silent for two years.  I begin the all too familiar walk into the plush new grass with the storm brightened sun on my back.  The engine bogs down with the thick tall grass still soaked from the storms of the previous day.  The sound of the mower and the smell of fresh cut grass triggers my memory.  I smile as I realize what I am remembering, knowing how far I've come.  Thick grass clippings accumulate under my wet shoes and I feel happy that tending my yard is no more a burden.  I am anxious for my young children to return home from school and enjoy the new soft yard.  This spring is ready for the playfulness of children and the scented memory of fresh cut grass.


  1. Another beautiful post! You are on a ROLL! :)

  2. Amazing story you have told. A nice, fond memory of fresh cut grass~
    Thanks for a beautiful post.


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