“It’s blowin’ in the wind,” says the Bearded One, and I know as well as he does that if we wait too long, it’ll be hell to push through. I usually mow, just because of the exercise, but I’ve been cooking all morning and want to sit. Mowing takes about 20 minutes, and the smell of the cut grass in the sunshine is intoxicating.
I sit on the deck and pet each animal in turn. Sweet Tart the chicken, who continues to heal nicely from her dog bite wound, is as insistent as Ruby. And Garfield loves on everyone and everything in sight.
Schmidt is our antique mower’s name, because that’s the name of the nice man I bought it from four years ago after seeing it advertised on Craigslist. It has a plaid catcher and a wooden handle, and is more than 50 years old.
The Bearded One just dragged it out from under the house and is mowing for the first time this year. “The first cut is the deepest” goes the song, and we’re mowing a good three weeks earlier than last year.
The sun shimmers on the blades like water. All three animals bite at the slender grass, working their tongues and beaks. The Bearded One whirrs past.
“We don’t water or fertilize it,” I explain later to a friend online who is surprised we have a lawn. “We let ours go brown and die each August. And it keeps the dust down.” Which is all true.
But my deeper truth is that, in the spring, I crave our little patch of soft Kentucky blue grass between the deck and hoophouse on the back side of the house.
It’s full of moss, which we also love.
We harvest lots of moss from our forest, pulling it up in big sheets for transplanting into moss gardens at different places.
The only place we fight moss is on the roof, and sprinkling laundry soap up there does the trick. The moss in the grass is neon green and fills in all the dirt places.
The Bearded One kept hurting his shoulder starting our ancient motorized lawnmower —
— the rope-pull gizmo locked up mid-pull every fourth or fifth try — and I hated the noise, so we gave it to Virge the village mechanic and got Schmidt. Our lawn tractor could cut the grass, too, but we took that attachment off long ago.
Our lawn slopes gently downhill to the biggest circle garden where the new blueberry bushes are budding and the rhubarb is up.
The broccoli, cabbage, and radish seedlings in the hoophouse are up, too.
The Bearded One has finished the patch in front of me now, and he empties the catcher into the compost pile, which is still in the shade and cold.
Here at the Equinox, as we hand winter over to the Southern Hemisphere, the sun is just making it above the surrounding forest.
Suddenly Ruby nose-dives into the sweet just-cut grass. She rolls on her back, flopping and rubbing and clawing.
Garfield flits by then, and he, too, plows into the grass headfirst, turning to show his tummy.
Sweet Tart’s tush twitches as she marches down the slight incline, clucking and burbling, and I can’t stand it another second. I want to eat the greenness, but lying on top of it will have to do.
I crawl off the deck on my hands and knees and finger my way into the blades. I dig my nails into the rooty mesh beneath the soft strands of freshly cut grass, and then, closing my eyes but still seeing the sun, I press my spine into the earth.