The household lawn with its decorative gardens of flowers/weeds is a bitterly contested battlefield in the war between the sexes, and while the male invader with his mechanized equipment and chemical weapons may seem to have the advantage in each isolated skirmish the female insurgent who unceasingly nurtures the hearts and minds of the flora population will always prevail.
Flowers and weeds
‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’
Or more accurately stated for the purposes of this discussion, ‘A man’s weed is a woman’s flower.’ Take heed of this warning when you mow the lawn, gentlemen, and beware of cutting down any plant that is not obviously a blade of grass or a clump of plantain. And I’d advise you to be dead certain on the plantain identification.
As I have learned from harsh experience, what a man may identify as a noisome cluster of wild oxeye daisy that is encroaching on the yard from the adjacent hayfield will in fact be a carefully nurtured planting of white snowcap shasta daisy, and mowing it down to stubbly stems will cause your status in the marital relationship to plunge to that of an oil corporation attorney at a Nature Conservancy meeting. The household lawn with its decorative gardens of flowers/weeds is a bitterly contested battlefield in the war between the sexes, and while the male invader with his mechanized equipment and chemical weapons may seem to have the advantage in each isolated skirmish the female insurgent who unceasingly nurtures the hearts and minds of the flora population will always prevail. Always. And after cessation of hostilities she will serve as sole judge and juror at your botanical war crimes trial.
So wisely surrender to the inevitable, men, and abide by the following rules of engagement in the lawn and garden wars.
Do not mow over any plant in bloom, with buds about to bloom, or with leaves of any color or pattern other than solid green and straight veined. Even a sloping hillside obviously being taken over by tendrils of creeping charlie can turn out to be a bed of grass violets or starter plugs of Thorndale English ivy – $55 worth – so assiduously avoid mowing any low-growing plant with petals of blue, purple, red, or orange.
These four hues plus green and yellow, by the way, are the full range of colors that the cones in the retina of a man’s eye can detect. If your wife cautions you, “Be careful not to mow over the shoots with the lavender blossoms (or cerulean or turquoise or maroon or burgundy or cerise or… whatever),” immediately ask her to specify whether the color of the blossom is blue, purple, red, or orange. Even better: have her walk you to the section of the yard in question and mark the no-mow area with a few orange flags. Orange.
One member of the Over the Hill Gang reports, with questionable embellishment of the facts in my opinion, that his wife has told him not to mow down anything that smells nice. This is useless advice because “smells nice” is a term with vastly different meaning to man and woman. To the feminine nose, nice smells include perfumes, cinnamon, sage, babies, fine wines, cookies baking, sun-dried towels, and of course flower blossoms. The male olfactory sense prefers the nice smells of new pickup truck tires, cigar smoke, frying bacon, gasoline, old leather, pine lumber, and of course new-mown grass.
Before you start mowing, insist that your wife provide you with specific identifications of protected species of plants in the yard, preferably with photos and a map of their locations. Remember that there is a gender difference in spatial relations. Your “eighteen feet southwest of the deck stairs” will be her “around the corner by the old tree swing.” Do not make decisions based on vague descriptions.
Also: mow in first gear; approach all corners and edges slowly and cautiously; do not back up without carefully looking behind you (a crushed tulip is almost as bad as a severed one). When in doubt, hit the kill switch. Drink iced tea, not beer, on your fifteen-minute break.
Keep in mind that it is far better to slow the pace of your mowing than imperil your well-being. Hasty and indiscriminate lawn mowing has been called a race on the superhighway to a divorce court, but it is more like an unwary stroll down a dark and narrow alley to a murder site. Do not think, in your flippant arrogance, that on some hot and humid July afternoon when mosquitoes and black flies are swarming and the sweat and toil of yardwork has pushed tempers to the breaking point, your life will be of greater value than that of a bed of white brim hostas.
Now, moving on to correct procedure for maintaining lawn borders… No, no. I’m not even going there. Some things, flame throwers and explosive devices and string trimmers for example, should not be used by men without adult supervision.
More stories about life in the North Country are published in my four collections of essays and two novels, all available through my Author Page on Amazon.com Jerry Johnson Author Page