Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bad Timing

At 7:30 this morning, a neighbor was mowing his lawn. 7:30 in the morning. It's a lovely sunny day with a breeze blowing through all the trees and birds singing, a kind of scene you'd like to preserve for a while before bombarding the corporate peace with your big-ass riding lawnmower with a double-wide blade. I would like to preserve it for a while anyway.

When I was in high school, all of my sisters had moved away, and I was the last one standing so to speak. During the summer, my parents would leave for work and give me a chore or two for the day. Sometimes I would have to pull weeds or clean my room or vacuum. Sometimes I would have to clean the gutters, which is startling now when I think about making a 15-year-old climb a ladder to clean slop out of the gutters with no adult supervision. Fortunately, we lived in a one-story house, so if I had fallen, my injuries would have been relatively minor.

Sometimes my assignment would be to cut the grass. I was a master of that lawn mower, and we had a small lawn quilted with flower beds and hedges and sidewalks, so it never took more than an hour. It was not a hardship for me to cut the grass, but I had such an appreciation for the peace the world provided on a summer morning that I could never bring myself to pull the cord on the mower before 11:00 or so. I would go outside and raise the garage door, pull the mower out and push it across the gravel driveway to the grass, but that's as far as I ever got if I went out too early. I would look around at the perfectly quiet neighborhood at a time when the birds and bunnies were in charge, and I could not bring myself to shatter the world with a running mower. My mother would come home for lunch and wonder why the mower was still outside, and not a blade of grass had been cut, and she never once accepted my explanation.

Back then you could be ostracised for moving the lawn on Sundays even if you didn't go to church. Regardless of your beliefs, you were clearly sullying the Sabbath, and so you were obviously a heathen. The pastor of our church would use moving the lawn on Sunday as a basis for his sermons—it was akin to playing cards and dancing. My mother liked to point out the same pharisees who complained about working on the Sabbath didn't mind going out for lunch after church and making some waitress work their table. But still, I was never asked to disturb the peace that one day of the week.

I'm happy the neighbor up the street is conscientious about his property—not everyone in the neighborhood is—but would it hurt the guy to save the noisy tasks for later in the day when everyone is awake and the birds have settled in their nests? I know from experience that cleaning the gutters is a silent chore except for the occasional rattle of the ladder rungs, and pulling weeds is even more so, reflective even. We're scheduled for a sunny but cool day today, so I think that big mower would work better at, let's say, 1:30. We can't have peace on earth, so can we at least have peace in the neighborhood for a few hours? I think so.

8 comments:

dive said...

You're so right, Robyn (as always … hee hee).
Being reserved and uptight English folk our weekend mornings are dead quiet for ages, as none of us wants to be the first to make an awful racket; but eventually someone's nerve will break and then suddenly everyone is out mowing their lawns (or in my case leaning on the mower, chatting to the neighbours).
At least that way most of the day is still peaceful.

Ms Mac said...

While a Swiss would never mow the lawn on a Sunday for fear of being sent to prison, they will insist on doing it right around dinner time. It is one of the things my neighbours do that drives me insane but I can't do anything about it because it's perfectly legal. And the worst part is that there's three households on the ground floor and they never mow their lawn on the same day so three times a week at dinner time, my lovely evening balcony sun is polluted by the noise of lawns being mown.

I wish they'd do it at 7:30am. I'm a heavy sleeper so even Saturday morning wouldn't bother me!

Alifan said...

Another hater of early lawn mowers,or Sunday morning ones..... or come to that the length of time my neighbour takes to mow the tiny piece of lawn he has, this afternoon, after his wife had gone out he started and 2 hours later he finished off the edges with a strimmer, noisy things...

The worst of it is I have suddenly at my age developed an allergy so have some medication from the Dr.. and this afternoon thinking I was feeling much better when he started to mow his lawn, and then I realised how rough I felt, so had to come indoors.....and for someone like me who loves her garden that is not nice...

Whatever happened to the nice little push mower that hardly made a noise.......

DearestDragonfly said...

I've been thinking of getting a nice, super-sharp push mower. We had a petite one in California and it couldn't 'hack' the dandelions.

I'd really enjoy some early morning contemplative weed-pulling. My main nemesis: mosquitos!! Must wait until the heat of the day to do yardwork. And even then I have to avoid shaded areas. Honestly, the little buzzing devils have a piranha streak.

MmeBenaut said...

With the price of gas these days, motorised lawnmowers should be banned and push mowers brought back into play then all of those of us who have a spare tire around the middle might lose it!
Just kidding. I love our self-propelled rover mower. But I can't start the darn thing so I can't mow unless I remember to ask M.B to start it for me.
As for 7.30 am that's a bit rich and decidedly inconsiderate. Here we have by-laws which state what time one can and can't make noise that might disturb the neighbourhood. If he's doing the wrong thing, make a photocopy of the laws and drop them in his letterbox - sort of like a "strike 1". Three of them and you'll dob him in to the local council or something. I did that with a neighbour once who used to use an angle-grinder up to 11 pm at night. He was doing up an old car and his shed was alongside my bedroom window.

lynn said...

We're a bit similar to Dive in that once one starts, we all do it so there's an almighty racket for an hour or so. Not bad.

I do hate noise; i'm very sensitive to it. More than lawn mowing, i am constantly irritated by some neighbours (very pleasant apart from this) - one, every Sunday just before 8 am will start his motorbike, let it run while he goes in again, presumably for breakfast, then revs repeatedly before zooming off for the day. The same man carries out conversations with his son outside the house, in a super-loud voice, the pair of them and they are standing no more than three feet away from each other! Whyyyyyy ???? It's so loud. Also, though i've no interest, i know pretty much all of their business.

I say to noisy people - ssssshhhhh!

savannah said...

2 words: noise ordinance.
i'm sure your city has one that regulates the time one can legally start making noise and also, that regulates the time you have to stop. these are quality of life issues that cities and especially, small towns usually take very seriously!

Rich said...

Good post Robyn, I have a guy that lives in back of me who uses one of those leaf blowers with that gosh darn high pitch sound as early as he can any morning of the week. Even with the windows closed it's still loud -it can penetrate anything.
I think it built charachter for you to clean gutters at 15. Too many kis are never having those kind of character building moments and chores in their lives these days.