You could cry or die
Or just make pies all day
— patty griffin
Mount Rainier glimmers in the background. The day is warm and sunny and bittersweet. We’re here for another verse of Lyle Lovett’s “Family Reserve.” And he’s mowing.
As a guy, I can tell you there are two basic kinds of males. Those who love to mow, and those who do not. It’s obvious he lands squarely in the first group.
He’s on a big riding mower, the 21st century version of the old farm tractors I grew up with. He’s tackling the football field of a yard in the front on the farm. As one who spent his early years pushing a mower over large areas, I feel an immediate kinship.
Row after row, back and forth. Mowing offers a joyous simplicity in a world spinning out of control. Just do this one thing. Go up, turn around, go back. Life is enormous, but if you break it down into these little rows, you can make it. And then a few weeks later, you do it all again. A rhythm of the seasons, a ritual of bonding with the world. A time to make peace with the cosmos.
He looks up, spots his cousin, and flashes that huge smile. Turns off the mower, takes out his protective ear gizmos and walks over. They catch up while I sneak cookies off of the buffet table. He has come so far; overcome so many hurdles. And now he seems happy.
He and Mo talk for a long time, about eight cookies’ worth if I’m keeping track of time by cookies, and there are worse ways to keep track of time. But then he needs to get back to work.
He returns to the mower, the male equivalent of making pies all day, the thing guys do when you need to go on autopilot for a while. Ear gear in, motor revved up, on to the next row. And then the next.
I’m happy for him. He seems to have landed in a good spot. That spot being a tractor seat. I go off to look for where they’ve hidden the pies.
At the end of the day, life is a series of snapshots you carry around with you, some happy, some sad, some so special that you stash them in a box on the top shelf where they’ll be safe.
In my mind, I have that Polaroid of him sitting on that tractor, plowing through his unruly crop, making his peace with the world, one row of grass at a time. That one is going on the top shelf for sure.
Mount Rainier glimmers in the background. The day is warm and sunny and bittersweet. And he’s mowing.
Life is funny …