Trina Machacek: Out with the old – or not

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

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I read an article some time ago. A middle-aged son thought his dad needed a new fancy lawnmower that picked up the grass as his dad mowed his small lawn. Seems the son thought the dad spent an inordinate amount of time after he mowed raking his grass into little piles.

Dad raked here and raked there. Soon he had several small piles of cut grass that he then picked up one at a time. Putting each pile in his lawn cart hauling them to the trash. The son could only see that his dad was working harder not smarter. Being younger he thought he knew what would be best so a new-fangled mower with a bag attached showed up one Saturday morning.

The dad was quite impressed with the machine and was thankful for the surprise thanking the son. The son left feeling quite pleased with himself. Later on in the morning the son dropped by to see how the dad liked the bagged beauty. When he pulled up to the house, he saw the dad in the yard. With his rake, raking his cut grass into little piles here and there as usual.

Perplexed and a titch perturbed that the dad just poo-pooed the new mower. Using his old mower and was still raking, the son questioned his dad about the situation. What do you suppose the outcome was? Let me answer that this way.

Yesterday I mowed my lawn for the first time this season. I have to tell you my lawn is bigger than a bread box but smaller than two acres, so I have a riding mower to mow when I go out to mow. I cut quite a swath with my orange machine, but the grass is left on the lawn to be picked up by a sweeper that I hook up to my little tractor after I mow. Then I zip here and zip there picking up grass and then drive off into the sagebrush across the road and dump the grass. The piles are eventually used as houses for various critters, or they are eaten by the cows that are out on the range as I live next to open range. So, it works out fine.

This year is, if I remember right, probably the 15th year for my sweeper. It lives outside and really is showing its age. The bag has sun rot and has been repaired several times with Gorilla tape. It’s even been hand sewn with wax-covered string in a place or two. In reality it looks like it has been rode very hard and put away wet several times. But! Yes, a haggard “but.”

I keep using it year after year because I know exactly how it works on the lawn. It will not pick up wet grass until I drive over it at least four times. I know the gears in the wheels slip and the brush stops going around until I stop, back up a little and the gear re-engages. In short, the sweeper and I are in sync.

At least 10 years ago my other half bought me a new sweeper. It is in a box in the garage. All I have to do is put it together and I would have a brand-new shiny sweeper to sweep with after I mow. But year after year I back up the mower to my old friend all worn and tattered and sweep away. Just like that dad used his rake. Mow after mow. Year after year. Seems we all have attachments to what makes us comfortable.

Like sweeping my kitchen or shop floor. I know I start at the same place in my kitchen as I do when I sweep the shop. Getting the job done in a manner that has become my path. Like going to the grocery store and starting by going off to the right side of the store pushing my basket like a train on a track. Like sitting nearly in the same place in the stands at the rodeo when I go watch the action. We are creatures of habit. Of comfort.

So the dad tells the son that when he rakes the grass, in his mind he is reenacting a civil war battle of blue vs gray. Over there the infantry. Around the tree, that pile was the artillery. It was his way of enjoying his work. So, the son took the bag off the new mower, and they were both happy. I use my old sweeper and I’m happy too.

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her books are available wherever you buy books or email her at to buy signed copies.


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