Zen and the Art of Lawn Care

The smell of a freshly cut lawn dominates the olfactory receptors with a scent of springtime jubilee. The stripes, so evenly and meticulously laid in their dancing patterns. Sweat pours from my bald scalp and runs down my face as I take a seat on the front porch and gulp down a bottle of water. Once again, the lawn care is done for the next week. 

I am the master of the domain when it comes to lawn and garden care at our house. Each flower bed planned out to the centimeter, and each potted arrangement carefully chosen before the peak of spring arrives. My mowing patterns set, making sure my lawn maintains the same stripes and zig zags time after time. I have put hours of thought and dirty work into where each element of my gardens reside, and how to sculpt the lawn around them. 

It’s Saturday evening and my body is screaming at me. Aching in joints and muscles I wasn’t aware I had until just now. My sinuses have closed up shop for the foreseeable future, and my lungs are working overtime to expel the dust and dirt they have taken on during my time outside.  I take a long draw off my cigar, and a sip off my whiskey. And I survey my land. 

I take great pride in the work I do and in how the yard and gardens present themselves.  It makes me feel all kinds of wonderful when people comment about how great the yard looks or how pretty our flowers are. It makes me think of my grandfathers, both of whom had green thumbs and I no doubt owe some of my skill to. It makes me think of the tips and tricks I’ve learned from my mother as we constantly discuss our garden plans, and even trade plants. But most of all: It grounds me in a world where everything else seems to be chaos. 

My day job is working in IT. Specifically, help desk incident management. I work from home full time, and have been for two years. And it’s a great arrangement. That was, until COVID hit and the world started falling apart around us. The kids came home for good months earlier than normal but still had to maintain their school work. At work, we moved tens of thousands of end users from their office to be able to work from home. Our help desk was absolutely drowning in calls, emails, and the team I work for found ourselves on the front line of a situation never dreamed of. 

Chaos. Uncertainty. Change. Grief. Anger. Confusion. Determination. So many different things to experience all at once and trying to make sense of any of it is more trouble on the mind than it’s worth. And in times of great uncertainty, it’s easy to lose focus and maintain your own life balance. During these times, it’s important to find something to keep you grounded.

For me, it’s yard work. And why is that? Well, it’s simple: It produces a tangible result that I can see, that I can share, and that I can point out to others and say “I did that”. From the stripes in the lawn to my amazingly colorful wildflower bed and Iris blooms. These are things that I put time, effort, sweat, and work into. At the end of the day, they are things I can enjoy, and yes, even brag about. 

There is something to be said about the hard work put into caring for a large lawn, and the labor you must commit yourself to. It’s not as simple as just planting seeds and mowing once a week. It takes a certain amount of dedication. Did you water enough? Has rain provided enough for you to skip watering this evening? Are your stripes straight? Did you cut too short to where you may get a few brown patches with extended sun exposure? This is the kind of effort that is required to maintain a great yard. But at the same time, this is the kind of effort you get to put into something that is yours. You own that end result 100%.

The benefits of the work I do professionally are often attributed elsewhere. In my line of work, we are silent heroes. The people behind the chaos that do their duty and move on to the next trial. And as a parent, I don’t feel like I am even looking for results. My kids are well fed and disciplined. They do their chores, then they play outside, or on their phones, or watch TV. I’m not the kind of person that looks for a  result. As long as my kids are healthy and happy.

But my yard is my domain and the fruit of my labors. In a world where you never know what’s happening one day to the next; where confusion and fear can often overwhelm, MY domain stands as a testament to the love, sweat, and blood that I put into it. 

As a wise man once told me: You have to keep grounded. Else the electricity of the world will ravage you whole. That was definitely no joke. In a world where the current is flowing through the streets like a downed powerline in the rain, we must find some way to make sure we are not victim to the powerful effects. Whether it’s lawn care, or photography. Drone flying, or model building. Whatever the case is, make sure you have your grounding. 

Comments on Zen and the Art of Lawn Care

  1. Avatar Wilco N. says:

    Love the post!
    The flowers remind me of the garden at my grandmother’s house in Holland.
    Memories of my youth.
    Now I am the grandfather.
    How life changes and yet remains the same.
    I myself have found a new way to decompress.
    Something that looks like it came straight out of a Star Trek movie..
    A 3 wheeled machine named Ryker!
    The open road which, combined with my futuristic land yacht, beckons my attention and when engaged, takes me to my own Zen.
    A time machine of sorts, that forces my eyes on the road ahead, and my thoughts of everything else behind.
    Centered.
    Grounded.
    Time on it slips away, but it always brings me back to where I started, home, with my family.
    I haven’t got lost yet on it, but hope to soon.

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