Tuesday, May 24, 2011

You Can Tell a Lot by a Lawn...

The thing with taking the dogs for a walk every night unless it’s raining is that I tend to notice the subtle changes in my neighbourhood.

We’ve been walking fairly regularly since the end of February. We’ve watched as winter turned slowly into spring. The ice-covered winter lawns began to thaw and the green began to show through. We watched the bare trees grow their first buds which gave way to blossom which are now full covers of leaves.

It’s interesting to watch the change of the seasons that way.

We also notice who has changed things on their houses. You can tell a lot about the occupants of a house by the small things. For example, it’s pretty easy to spot the retired folks because they have the type of lawns that require a landscaping company. They have quaint little ornaments in their front grass and flags that show the season. They never leave the flag up too long. Their decorations go up just at the right time. Then there are the proud homeowners who do their own mowing and they do it often. They attempt for the same neatly created lawn that the landscaping companies provide but it’s never quite as tidy.

Then there are the homeowners like me who like to have a tidy lawn but, well, we have other things to do. I try never to let my lawn get too long but there are days when I simply don’t have time to go measure the grass and try to make sure it’s the perfect length.

And then there are the people who just don’t like to mow. Some of them are renters as my disdainful neighbour once pointed out. In some cases, when they are a renter, it’s not their fault. They rent someone else’s house and the landlord has an agreement where he/she will mow the lawn as part of the rental agreement.

This, of course means, that the tenant doesn’t own his or her own personal lawnmower because there’s no need. They become reliant on the landlord to do so and when he/she doesn’t show up, their grass gets long.

Of course, there are other types of renters: These who just don’t cut their grass unless they’re to the point where they know they can’t avoid it much longer. My next door neighbour, Mr. Enormous Trousers, is one of these.

Mr. Enormous Trousers is married to a nice lady I will call Mrs. Enormous Trousers. They’re a very nice couple. They love my dogs. They make a point of stopping and talking to us every time they see us. Mr. Enormous Trousers is ok. He chats and then goes inside. Mrs. Enormous Trousers is very, very chatty. She tells me a lot about her family and her problems and her life. I don’t mind hearing it but when, like me, you have just promised a nice walk to your two little dachshunds and then, as soon as you head outside, you stop, it’s a little inconvenient. Both Sookie and Rory try to be patient with Mrs. Enormous Trousers but they’re not good at standing still immediately after getting to be outside on their leash.

Anyway, Mrs. Enormous Trousers has told me the ins and outs of Mr. Enormous Trousers’ health issues. Apparently, he used to be Mr. Even More Enormous Trousers but he’s lost a lot of weight. Also, he has bad knees and a bad bladder.

The point of my telling you this is that I also know they have two daughters and a son. One of the daughters is recently pregnant and this, Mrs. Enormous Trousers, was a bit of an unexpected ‘surprise.’

Mrs. Enormous Trousers has also told me that it’s very hard for them to get their lawn cut because Mr. Enormous Trousers also has a bad back. Thus, he can’t always mow. I haven’t quite figured out why Mrs. Enormous Trousers doesn’t mow because she doesn’t seem to have so many woes but, usually, when needs must, it’s still Mr. Enormous Trousers out there mowing.

Now, here’s the thing I don’t get. They have kids. Their kids are very healthy. They are also all above the age of 20. One of them still lives at home and she is not the pregnant one. Now, if I lived with my parents and my dad had health issues, wouldn’t the natural thing be to offer to mow the lawn?

Not so with this family, alas. In fact, when I was out mowing on Friday, clearly sweating in the heat and not feeling very chatty, Mrs. Enormous Trousers came over and had me stop the mower simply to tell me how well my mower mowed and, perhaps, I could just keep mowing on over to their lawn.

She said it with a laugh but I could tell there was some seriousness there. I contemplated it, briefly. It would have been a kind gesture and I generally do try to make those when I can. It’s just that my fear was that if I did it just once, it would be one of those things I’d feel like I had to do all the time. Also, I think they might actually expect it.

It’s not that I don’t like doing nice things for people but I’m not fond of mowing to begin with. Also, mowing takes gas which I was low on anyway. Finally, well, they have other people in their own house who can mow the lawn. In my case, I only have two dogs inside and the only way I could get Sookie and Rory to mow would be to coat the lawn with bacon and hope they pulled up the grass at the same time they grabbed the bacon.

I did feel bad. The kind thing to do would be to help them out. If they were completely stuck and they had no way of getting the lawn cut, I’d definitely help. I think I also might be a little oversensitive about it anyway: I tend to be a bit soft and I’ve been taken advantage of before so I’m a little more careful now.

Perhaps I’m talking about it to assuage my guilt. I’m definitely not someone to walk away from a person in need but we’re talking lawnmowing here. Besides, on the other side of Mr. Enormous Trousers is Wayne. Wayne is a neighbour I’ve only recently met. He just bought his very own industrial mower and he’s offered to cut my lawn for a small fee. Since I just got a new mower, I didn’t take him up on his enterprising offer but I can’t help but think he’d do the same for the Enormous Trousers’.

In the end, the boyfriend of the pregnant daughter came by and cut their lawn the morning after I did mine. I didn’t feel so bad then.

By the time he was done mowing, their lawn was as short as mine. It was hard to tell they were renters. The only evidence is the very long clippings that spray onto the sidewalk and reveal how long their grass actually was. This is a telltale sign of a renter, at least according to my chatty and slightly snobby neighbour, Mike of the Rather Large Backyard.

I prefer to think it may be the sign of someone whose lawn mower exploded or someone who simply doesn’t want to mow. You never can tell. There’s always a story behind every long lawn. Sometimes it’s simple and sometimes it requires a long conversation with Mrs. Enormous Trousers to find out why.

Either way, walking the pups in the neighbourhood is often an adventure, no matter what time of year.

Happy Tuesday!

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