June 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Central African Republic: Humor: Lawn Mowing: Pioneer Press: Central African Republic RPCV Joanna Dane says: Worse even than mothers who tell their children to eat all their vegetables because there are starving children in Africa, are returned Peace Corps volunteers.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Central African Republic: Peace Corps Central African Republic : The Peace Corps in the Central African Republic: June 19, 2005: Headlines: COS - Central African Republic: Humor: Lawn Mowing: Pioneer Press: Central African Republic RPCV Joanna Dane says: Worse even than mothers who tell their children to eat all their vegetables because there are starving children in Africa, are returned Peace Corps volunteers.

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Central African Republic RPCV Joanna Dane says: Worse even than mothers who tell their children to eat all their vegetables because there are starving children in Africa, are returned Peace Corps volunteers.

Central African Republic RPCV Joanna Dane says:  Worse even than mothers who tell their children to eat all their vegetables because there are starving children in Africa, are returned Peace Corps volunteers.

Central African Republic RPCV Joanna Dane says: Worse even than mothers who tell their children to eat all their vegetables because there are starving children in Africa, are returned Peace Corps volunteers.

Real life yard work stalls on push-mower nostalgia Joanna Dane N

early two years ago, my husband and I were about to become first-time homeowners. We resolved to be tough and not budge on our offer of $7,000 less than the for-sale-by-owners's asking price. They countered only $2,000 less or no deal.

Despite the fact that the house had been on the market for almost a year, I panicked. I really wanted the house. My mind raced, trying to come up with a plan.

"We'll take it!" I blurted. "As long as you throw in the push mower." I had seen the relic, covered with cobwebs, parked in a dark corner of the basement. And it spoke to me. All through my childhood, my father had mowed our lawn with just such a push mower. The sound of the quiet, whirling blades, meant summertime as much as the calls of the cicadas and the ding of the ice cream truck.

Va-va-va-va-va-va! Va-va-va-va-va!

The deal was closed. Feeling the enthusiastic grip of the for-sale-by-owners's handshakes, seeing their giddy smiles, it dawned on me. We just paid $5,000 for a push mower. Still, I couldn't wait 'til spring when I could sit on our screened-in porch with a lemonade, watching my husband mow our first lawn.

Va-va-va-va-va-va! Va-va-va-va-va!

Come spring, my husband wasn't quite so enthusiastic. It took him three hours of intense physical labor to mow our lawn not big enough to host a decent game of catch. That didn't include the other three hours it took him to rake and bag the grass clippings. "I'm buying a gas mower!" he said.

"But that's such a waste!" You see, I was in the Peace Corps. Worse even than mothers who tell their children to eat all their vegetables because there are starving children in Africa, are returned Peace Corps volunteers. "Most people in the world don't even have grass!" I argued. It's true. Central Africans see anything green growing within 10 meters of their houses as invitations for snakes, scorpions, spiders. Each morning, girls all over Central Africa, wake to perform their first of many chores during the day, sweeping the dirt yard. Coming from a grass-obsessed nation, this, of course, struck me as very odd behavior. But after living there for two years, I came to appreciate the aesthetic of a well-swept dirt yard.

"Have you ever tried to mow with a push mower?" my husband asked, grass clippings stuck all over his sweaty arms, legs, torso, face. He seemed a bit irritated, so I debated whether to admit that I had never used any kind of mower. My mother thought it too dangerous. We might have cut off our toes. She, in fact, wouldn't let us anywhere near the lawn when my father was mowing. My brothers and I had to watch from the safety of the front porch.

Va-va-va-va-va-va! Va-va-va-va-va!

I decided it best to lie. "Of course I have!" My husband stepped aside, offering me the mower. I rolled up my sleeves. How hard could it be? I leaned my weight on the mower. It wouldn't budge. "Must be broken," I said.

"Nope."

"The blades probably need sharpening."

Just to prove me wrong, my husband took it in. "We don't sharpen those," said the True Value man.

"But I called," said my husband.

"I thought you were talking about a push mower. Not a PUSH mower," he said.

Still, I was insistent. "You keep saying you want to get in shape. Consider it a cheap workout."

The next weekend when my husband suggested I help with the lawn, I pulled my trump card.

"I was up all night with the baby," I said. "I need a nap."

"OK, no problem!"

His willingness made me suspicious. Still, I could not let the opportunity slide.

An hour later, I woke to the windows rattling in the panes.

I looked outside. My 4-year-old was skipping about the yard, barefoot. The baby was in her stroller, screaming. And there was my husband cutting the grass with a roaring gas-powered mower. Smiling.

Well, it could have been worse. He could have gotten a rider. And how could I explain that to my Central African friends who didn't believe me when I told them about the tanning beds and the treadmills?

So our $5,000 push mower sits in a dark corner of the basement, covered in cobwebs, waiting for the time we decide to sell the house, hoping for a nice young couple with push mower nostalgia.
Dane, a 2005 Pioneer Press community columnist, lives in Chippewa Falls, Wis. E-mail her at jkosowsky@sbcglobal.net.





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Story Source: Pioneer Press

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Central African Republic; Humor; Lawn Mowing

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