I’m not an expert at yard work, nor am I proficient at being self-supporting. I do know, however, what doesn’t work. I am very good at creating disasters around the house. Maybe, by writing this column, I can teach someone what not to do when working around the yard.
Every spring, as soon as the weather turns, I start digging out the mess I made all winter in the garage. After I put all the tools back in their place, after I pick up remnants of every winter project I did, after dragging bicycles, wheel barrows, and shovels out into the driveway for all the neighbors to see… there lies the old mower.
With one tire flat, a dead battery, and six months worth of grass clippings covering the old girl, I pull her out and assess the damages. The battery gets charged, the oil gets changed, and fix-a-flat goes in every tire, at which point I convince myself it’s time to fire the beast up—usually starting a small but controllable fire.
After putting out the fire and calming my wife, I head straight up the biggest hill in the yard, figuring if the mower can make it up that hill she is ready. Most times though, I get half way up the hill and the drive belt blows from all the grass clippings I forgot to clean out, sending me twenty miles an hour in reverse back down the hill.
Sometimes, being a man, I get in over my head on spring projects. That was the case last year, when somehow I talked my wife into letting me rent a backhoe. Our basement was collecting water in the spring, and I was convinced I could just dig around our foundation and drop a drain tile in to fix the problem. Furthermore, I was sure I knew how to operate a backhoe without prior experience, just because I knew how to drive a forklift at work ten years ago. Just for reference here: backhoes are not like forklifts.
I was so excited when the rental guy dropped the backhoe off that I didn’t listen when he explained what the twenty-five levers on the console were for. When he drove away, it was all I could do just to get the thing started. As it turns out, maybe God was intervening because He knew how much damage I could do to my yard and foundation without my wife directing my moves.
By the time my wife came home from work, I had broken two sections of our new sidewalk, ripped out a water spigot, broken a window, and somehow managed to get the backhoe stuck in the mess I had created.
Folks, timing is everything.
When my wife came around the corner, she didn’t carry on—she didn’t yell or scream. She has lived with me so many years that I think she kind of expects these things to happen. She unbuckled my seat belt, got me off the machine, climbed on, and started fixing all the damage I had done with smooth, delicate moves on that backhoe. Who knew she had experience at this? She is amazing, and that’s why I love her.
We’ll see you in a week—Lord willing and the creek in the basement don’t rise.