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.