Today was a different day, right from the start. First, I woke up at about one in the afternoon like usual. However, instead of waking up to my brother, or my dog, I woke up to my dad. He was off of work for the day. Uh oh. This always spelled trouble. Not real trouble, just work for me. Yup, sure enough. My task for the day was a new and interesting one. Something I had never done before.

My dad decided that since I was almost twenty years old, and had never cut the grass before, it was time I learned how. Our lawn is not just any lawn. We have an acre of property, and this is no easy task. There are trees, swings, gardens, the pool area, the gazebo, and the wooden paths.

So, he dragged me down into the depths of the basement, and out to the lower garage where the lawnmowers were kept. I began to get somewhat excited, thinking I could actually grow to like using the riding lawnmower and just sitting pretty on the John Deere. Wrong. My dad wouldn't let me within a three feet radius of the rider. My mower was the push mower. His justification was that is was self-propelled; therefore, it was no problem.

Well, I should have realized that my first problem was that I couldn't start it. Now, I am no Hercules, but I thought I had enough power in my 5'2, 100 pound body to atleast pull the chord hard enough to start this lawnmower. Well, as much as I tried, I continued to fail. I absolutely could not get it started. So, I went in the house, changed my clothes, got out my Walkman and headphones, and returned for my day of hell. My dad started it for me, and away it went. It took a couple back-and-forths to get the hang of it.

Finally, after I had about half the yard done, I was so thirsty, I could hardly stand it. Luckily, my dad had not left to go golfing yet, so I could run inside, and he could still start it for me. So, I ran in, grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich my brother made, and ran back out again. He started it up, and I had to operate the mower with only one hand, while eating my grilled cheese sandwich with the other hand.

After about another hour of zig-zagging, making circles, and back-and-forths, I had finished. And, let me tell you, I was damn proud. The markings on the grass weren't exactly normal, because usually, only back-and-forths are made.

So, as I finished up, and put the gas can and the mower back into the garage, my dad pulled back in, and right behind him came my guy best friend. Well, those two inconsiderate males decided to have a field day with my mowing skills. For the next fifteen minutes, the only thing they did was criticize the way I mowed, and all of the tiny spots I missed. Well, I got angry and upset.

Of course, being the girl that I am, I started crying. I began yelling at them, saying that none of my friends that are girls ever cut the grass. And I never claimed to be good. It was his idea for me to cut the stupid grass and it isn't fair that they should be laughing at me. No one ever showed me how to cut the grass and I just did it the way I saw fit. It doesn't matter how the grass got cut, the point is that I cut it. You should be excited that I did it, instead of telling me how much I did it wrong. With that, I look at my dad and said, "You can cut your own damn grass from now on." And then I looked at my guy best friend, and I said, "And you. You can go home."

Well, the extent that I was upset only made them laugh harder and it only made me more upset.

In the coming events, both of these pain-in-the-ass males apologized to me, and alerted me of the fact that they both were indeed surprised and excited by the fact that I made an effort to mow the grass and that they were just teasing me about the way I cut, and that the lawn looked "nice." What a day!!!

Cutting the grass is a thing of beauty. Zen, even.

I grew up in Southern Pennsylvania in a house that later on, my friends mockingly called "The Plantation"-- It sat in the middle of a 6 acre expanse of lawn dotted with huge hundred-year old poplars, and silver maples. In the summer, the sun would filter through the branches, creating intricate lacy patterns on the gently rolling hills. We lived at the top of the hill, which gradually descended into a coniferous forest. A few miles past the forest a cookie cutter golf course subdivision development was springing up, the unhalting march of progress.

Anyway... my father. My father was such a man who enjoyed cutting grass. He woke up early on Sunday mornings and could often be observed on our red Sears riding mower, tracing the contours and gradients of the land. During the week, he was a doctor of Engineering for the Department of Defense but he seemed to get some sort of satisfaction out of this grass cutting ritual.

My sister was never much of a grass cutter. But my brother and I inherited this from our father-- we'd get up on Sunday at around 7:00 in the morning, after the sun had warmed the stones that made up the wall encircling the edge of the house, but before the oppresive heat set in.

I first learned how to drive a stick shift from that tractor. The clutch was particularly difficult-- I had to put my entire 12-year-old weight on it to shift, but damn it, it would shift when I wanted it to. To this day, I can't drive automatic-- I feel the car unsettlingly shift itself at random places.

There was just something about the morning in the summer that still brings me back home. As I got older, my father would wake us up early to play tennis, or go sailing. During my teenage years, while I still lived on 'The Plantation', it seemed like my parents and I fought constantly and bitterly, but every weekend morning was sacred.

I haven't spent a summer in the country for two years. Last summer, my parents came to visit me in my West Village 17th floor pied a terre, conspicuously without a balcony (a balcony was 400$ more a month). Though there's no grass to cut in New York it was just like home again-- my parents up early trying to make a semblance of breakfast with the meagre contents of my refrigerator, washing the dishes that I bought at Crate and Barrell and haven't used since.

Maybe this explains my unhealthy penchant for the early morning-- But I wouldn't have given up those grass cutting years for anything.

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