As a young child I would beg my mother to let me mow the lawn. I loved walking behind the push mower watching its blades turn and churn up the grass, and hearing the rhythm as I walked up and down the yard. My least favorite part was having to rake up the grass afterwards.
I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mowing by hand in years. In fact most of them must be in antique stores waiting for someone to purchase them so they can turn them into lamps or clothes trees.
What I see now are individuals sitting on a riding lawn mower with grass catching capabilities. This type of equipment was used by farmers to clear the “back forty”. Now people are using it to mow a patch of grass the size of a postage stamp.
The noise these machines emit is somewhat analogous to a jet idling on a tarmac when you’re trying to sleep in on the weekend. I’m not quite sure why this has become the new paradigm for lawn maintenance, but I’m sure one of the reasons is that it looks cool, just like running around town doing errands in a big truck does.
We seem to like big in this country and fast and we want to expedite and multi task, so we can get as much done as possible in one day. If we can sit and do all our stuff, we’re even happier. I think eventually we will simply not have to move at all. Maybe our legs will turn into wheels. After all the evolutionary process has proven that when you don’t use it, you lose it.
Unfortunately our need to expedite and all our technology has decreased our calorie expenditure. My grandmother washed most things by hand including dishes, mopped or swept floors, and walked everywhere. She had incredible stamina and rarely if ever sat down to rest. She always told me that she knew that eventually she would have an eternity to rest.
My mother had the same mindset. Gadgets were considered unnecessary. A lot of her sense of self worth came from doing things that had a certain degree of physical and mental effort.
Believe me, I’m not proposing that we go back to outhouses or washing our clothes down by the river. But, perhaps we might want to integrate some of our past into the present. It just might be one of the answers to curbing the continuing rise of obesity.
Loretta LaRoche writes the Get a Life column for the Patriot Ledger.