Since it had been about a month since the last mowing, I decided it was time to trim our small pasture again this weekend. Usually I’ll start along the fence and keep mowing in a clockwise manner in a series of laps around the shrinking perimeter of tall grass. “Grass” in this case means fescue, bluegrass, orchard grass and a generous sprinkling of burdock, Johnson Grass, pigweed, milkweed and mulberry sprouts along with a few vines and at least one yucca plant. Sort of a duke’s mixture with a good bit of indigenous infiltration.
I began, working my way around the first few laps and carefully negotiating my way under or around the very low branches of the two scrub oak trees at the south end of the pasture. Around the third lap I decided I would vary my strategy and work across the grain, so to speak. I divided the field up into four smaller sections, going back and forth so that the “seams” created by this mowing would run perpendicular to those made by the previous mowing.
In order to make a neater job of it, and to rehearse an old skill from my early days of plowing back in Todd County, Kentucky, I decided to make the section cuts as straight as possible. It seemed pretty natural to use the technique Dad taught me about fifty-five years ago. At the start of each new section cut, I picked out a landmark on the opposite side of the field and focused on it. Across the bumps and dips, across the terraced ridges, uphill or downhill, I kept steering straight toward whichever fencepost or tree I’d chosen.
Considering the lack of practice over the years, I made a right tolerable job of it. The mowed strips laid out behind me were mostly straight and generally parallel.
I think the odds of reaching our destination are probably improved considerably when we don’t let the rough spots of life turn into a detour that forgets where it was headed. And even if some of our rows aren’t quite as neat or pretty as we would have liked, it’s the progress that matters.