First thing I learned about farming is there are no excuses.
Maybe it’s the only thing I really learned.
All the rest, just experiments really, produced no new wheel or mousetrap . . . or in my parallel universe, revision of manuscript. Edifying, perhaps, but measurable progress? Meh.
Today I looked at the riding mower in the garage where I’m housesitting and tried to pry the rubber cap off what I hoped protected some lug nuts to allow me to fix a flat tire the easy way. But it just wouldn’t come off. Like it was designed to not come off.
I contemplated the alternatives: I could maybe make a ramp and wench the whole damn ridiculous machine into my truck and take it to the tire place. Did the R and D department that came up with the riding mower intend to actually mow lawns . . . or just make spreading old men feel like they were doing something while sitting on their asses? Or just create service work for franchises?
My thoughts were heading south fast.
I sipped my strong coffee.
Maybe I could inflate it with a bicycle pump.
And finally: Maybe I don’t really have to mow the lawn; I don’t have any such contract saying I have to.
That, my intuition prodded me, was not a solution.
When I started farming I learned that not doing it –whatever the task–was never an option. Someway, somewhere, somehow, everything had to get done. Whether it was as minor as replacing a bent-on blade on some pruning shears or actually getting 240 acres of orchard mowed for discing before the soil dried up into concrete.
My uncle and mentor had his own version of what you’re thinking. Instead of “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he would say, in Spanish because those were the ears for whom the phrase was intended: “Si no hay solucion, no hay problema.” (If there is no solution, there is no problem.)
While you’re trying to figure that out, consider the joy of innovation. That’s where I think his head was going with that one. Innovate. Figure it out. Be as smart as you really are. I have faith in you.
Ok, you’re procrastinating.
I convince a friend to go to his ex’s house and pick up his mini-air compressor. Phhssst and the tire is round.
Next day, still round. Good to mow.
So I tackle the battery. Same friend has a home-sized trickle-charger. “Red goes on positive,” he opens the door again to inform me.
Really? I contemplate his comment. Should I ask him how to use toilet paper?
Eight hours later the mower starts up with a bang and a sigh … and I am that fat old man riding it around the sparsely parsleyed yard.
Then a revelation strikes me: This is hella fun!
I head diagonally toward the western fence. I whirl around an antler-scraped scrubby pine and aim toward a parallel point from where I started. From there it is anyone’s guess. I should cut as close to the boulders by the tulips as I can … but not head down the hill at an angle. By noon, most the yard is shorn. And I have forgotten my phone for HOURS.
Although no clear financial reward appears on my horizon, I have cut close not only all the weeds and grass on this half-acre meandering parcel, but I have trimmed short my own excuses. Now I really need to get to work, back to my desk.
Getting done something as ridiculous as mowing a lawn, or I ponder, writing a blog post, is no excuse.