By Bobby Neal Winters
NALM, the National Association of Lawn Mowers, has been experiencing some turbulent times. As you may have noticed, we are living in an era of change and NALM is consistent with the zeitgeist. For years, NALM was dedicated to the purpose of good lawns and the men who mow them. That word “men” came under scrutiny during the upsurge in women’s rights. Being forward looking and right thinking, the folks at NALM changed that word to “people.”
I don’t think any woman actually asked for the change by the way. I think there were actually motions that it be changed directly to “women,” but people it is and people it will stay until such time aliens land and start demanding the right to mow.
But that was years ago. The trend more recently has been away from “just mowing” to general yard care. This encompasses the creation of flower gardens, lawn gnomes, retaining walls, the planting the treats, and the placement of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pink flamingos are in there somewhere.
Last year, I did my bit trying to catch the wave by installing a French drain in my back yard. I did this during the intersession between Spring and Summer semesters last year. There had been a place in my back yard where water had been pooling, and the French drain has worked like a charm. We’ve not received nearly as much rain since.
I followed this by removing some sidewalk that no longer articulated with our front porch after our renovation. In order to do this, I spent some quality time with an 8-pound sledge hammer. Let me share, my friends, my great respect for those who earn their daily bread on the business-end of a sledge hammer. I told my beloved Jean that, should I ever want to end it all in such a way as to allow her to collect my life insurance, the sledge hammer might very well accomplish that feat, but I digress.
This year Jean and I have begun the preseason by moving our hostas. Our hostas have been one of our great, shining successes in the realm of landscaping, so the wise might inquire as to why we are moving them if they are doing well where they are.
We are doing this because of our basement, the west wall of it to be specific. To quote from the Gordon Lightfoot song, “The Captain wired in he had water coming in / And the good ship and crew was in peril...” It was actually a computer science professor cum stonemason, and he didn’t wire it in, but you get the picture.
The water is coming in through the flowerbed which had been the home of our hostas, so we moved the hostas as a prelude to covering the flowerbed with pavers.
This will meet with great approval from the officials at NALM because (1) moving the hostas required creating a new flowerbed which is one of the activities they are encouraging and (2) the covering of the former flowerbed with pavers counts as extending a patio which is also meets with their approval.
This is all good, because we are going to need all the brownie points can get. Our need for a little slack from NALM comes from the state of our back yard. Our old dog Buttercup, may she rest in peace, had an irrational hatred of toads. She listened for them and dug them up from the holes in the ground where they hid. As she grew old and senile, any spot on the ground was suspect. The upside of this was that at least she was growing weaker.
Imagine her being replaced with a dog who doesn’t require a toad as an excuse to dig and is young and healthy to boot. This dog is named Charlie, and our back yard is beginning to look like the surface of the moon.
I wonder if the folks at NALM can be bribed.
(Bobby Winters is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.)