Van Morrison once sang a song about cleaning windows. It's about a guy who wants to be a musician, but he's happy cleaning windows. It's what I thought about as any number of other songs poured from my earbuds into my head as I mowed the lawn. I considered how music helps make the monotonous tasks less tiresome.
Suddenly I was back in second grade. Mrs. Richter was teaching me about sea shanties, and how sailors used to sing them to make the drudgery of life at sea a little less painful. In front of me was the mower. Behind me was freshly mowed grass. The roar of the engine played over the rock and roll tunes that did their best to take me away from the seemingly endless rows.
How many more? There had to be an equation to help me calculate the number of square feet that I had cut, and how many stretched out in front of me. It was finite. Eventually I would finish. I could stop in the middle and come back to it another day.
But that's not the way these things go. It was my work. It was my chore. IT was the work that I had chosen to do on a sunny day in February. No one stood over me with a lash and forced me to manicure my lawn. In some ways, I was only making matters worse. Hadn't someone told me that cutting grass makes it grow more vigorously?
All the while, the songs kept drifting in and out. I listened to one, ignored another. They became discrete marks of time that corresponded to the ever-diminishing task of mowing the lawn. When I came to the end of the last row, I let go of the bar that kept the mower running. I took off my turned off the music and looked at the newly trimmed sea of green. Number thirty-six.