Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Reel Tragedy

Yesterday, the shit hit the fan... or the reel, as it is.

The weeds in the yard are getting a bit long, long enough that we could no longer ignore them. So the other day, I came to the conclusion (with a lot of persuasion from the wife) that after putting it off as long as I could that it was time to buy a mower. (Sighhhhh...)

Now, mowing our lawn isn't a big deal. We don't have a sizable yard to maintain. We (I) have enough free time to complete the task. And there are eco-conscious, low impact, old-school mowers available that will do a fine job. Up until now, the problem was just coming to accept that we needed to shell out a few bucks to buy a mower. Simple and I've come to terms. I'm there. Little did I know, however, that the decision to buy was the easy part.

Q: So, why a reel mower?

A: Reel push mowers are inexpensive, eco-conscious lawn tools to take care of moderately sized yards. It is a one time purchase that requires no fuel, emits no exhaust, and requires only occasional blade sharpening - just like any mower. It also makes a minimum amount of noise. One of my biggest complaints about living East of the Mississippi is that homeowners are obsessed with having green, over fertilized, well groomed lawns, and they feel compelled to wind up the engine at 7:30 a.m. every Saturday morning. Now I can think of a few things I would rather do early in the morning and mowing is about the last thing I want to do or hear.

Reel mowers used to be fairly common before low cost gasoline powered mowers became the standard lawn appliance in the 1960s. Americans have been becoming fatter and lazier ever since.

Q: Okay, so a reel mower makes sense for my needs (weeds). Where do I go to purchase one?

A: Good question, and... not around here.

I no longer live in a rural area. In fact, now I live in a suburb of the original metropolis (the day I came to terms with the fact that I was a suburbanite, I died a little). One would like to think that the fact he or she lives in a more densely populated area should make available more product options within a short distance at a lower cost to the consumer than in a rural area (you know, free-market ideology shit). This is one of the things people love about cities, correct? So the fact that I visited three large box stores - Lowe's, Home Depot, Sears - and waded through the mass of humanity that congregates at these suburban bastions of commerce only to discover that, in fact, they did not have a selection of reel mowers to peruse was, to say the least, disappointing. Oh, there were plenty of mowers available - big ones, small ones, riders, push mowers . But there were only three in three monstrous warehouses that did not require a gasoline engine and a pull string to start. Nope. I just wanted a simple, inexpensive 4-7 blade reel mower... and the box stores couldn't handle it.

Damn it!

I was ashamed. Time, fuel, and a little self-respect were lost in an attempt to find a mower that's been capable of doing the job since the 1830's. And the worst thing, in the back of my mind, I was expecting it. I hate suburbia.

The urban elk are frothing at the mouth after seeing this photo.

More to come...


Matthew said...

I also prefer manual mowers as I still have flash backs to my landscaping summer job. So lucky that I left with all my toes and fingers.

Zurich_Dad said...

If you think you're going to be able to "mow" weeds that tall with a reel mower you've got something else coming to you. The reel mower only works if the grass (weeds) are really short to begin with.

DSW said...

I'm not really sure you should be mowing what I see in that picture. That looks like a prairie grass garden with nice yellow and blue wildflowers.

Francis H. Woods said...


Don't be a buzz-kill. Man-up, dude! If the weeds protest, you gotta giv'em both barrels. Brute force, man! Unleash the pythons! Show 'em who's boss.

I'll post some pics soon. It did a nice job.