By Steve Siciliano
When I opened the shed door our dog Ellie Mae shot past me and began hunting. I share the space in that old shed with the chipmunks and squirrels. I stow my shovels, rakes and mower on the floor and they hoard their walnuts above the sagging wallboard ceiling. Barb and I talk about replacing the shed and we probably should. It’s hardly worth putting more paint on the dry-rotted boards and there are a few spots where the moss-covered shingles aren’t keeping the rain out. But I kind of like the way the old shed looks, and I really don’t mind sharing it with the critters.
After backing the lawn tractor out I lit a cigar. I like to take my time mowing the lawn. Always rushing through life can wear you down and as I grow older I’m finding that being in a state of non-hurriedness is the best way to approach things. I could certainly mow the lawn faster. I could zip around the yard intent only on getting the job done. I could careen around the one-acre lot keeping one eye on the job at hand and the other on what needs to be done later. But it’s impossible to just be when you’re not living in the present. And when you’re always focused on the future you tend not to notice things.
That day while cutting along the stand of trees on the edge of the back yard I noticed the explosion of pink and white flowers on the wild blackberry bushes. I thought about past Julys when I plucked ripe berries from my slow moving perch. To the left where there’s a stand of bamboo I observed how much taller the new shoots had grown in only a week.
When I navigated around and through the line of spruces I recalled how small they were when we planted them. While moving through the wide open expanse of the backyard I was happy for the startled moths that fluttered up from the ground and felt bad about the ones that didn’t. I noticed the robins landing in the mower’s mulched wake and wondered what they were pecking at. (Feasting, perhaps, on those unfortunate moths?) When negotiating around the weeping cherry trees I thought about how their wrinkled trunks look like an elephant’s. I saw the swift moving shadow of a wide-winged bird and looking up spied a low sweeping hawk. While avoiding the protruding roots of the ancient silver maples on the side of the house I wondered how much longer they would be shading us. In the front yard I braked to allow a slow-hopping toad make it to the shelter of the hostas.
After putting the mower back in the shed I went in the house and looked through the window at the fresh mown lawn. “Sure takes you a long time to cut the grass,” Barb said looking up from her book.
“Yes,” I replied. “It sure does.”