Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pioneers and Professionals

I just got inside from what was perhaps my second or third time to mow our 1.161-acre lot. It only took about six phone calls to my husband (who is traveling) before I got the tractor to move its first inch. But then we took off.

And on my first swath around the house, I decided to do the scary part and cut the “house side” of the ditch next to the road. (Sorry, but not even the solemn reassurances of my husband that the tractor would not tip over were sufficient to make me tackle the steeper road part.) As I started down the side, I noticed that my husband had not cut all the way to the bottom of the incline. So I thought I would correct his mistake. Suddenly, the tractor and I were not going anywhere. I looked down to see the mower deck toting a little patch of grass, the last that had survived in the trench I had so neatly cut before the engine just couldn’t pull it anymore.

How embarrassing!!! There I was, right next to the road, my faithful but abused John Deere perched at an angle in front of a lawn very much needing cutting, and I was already disabled. What to do? I thought of calling our substitute home teacher (our regular ones summer in Maine). All I needed was a little more muscle, right? Of course, then in my mind’s eye I saw him coming with his 350 Ford truck and hooking it up to the tractor and yanking it out. I’d actually thought about doing it with my own car but I wouldn’t have had a clue as to which part would be safe to anchor the chain to.

What do you do in cases like this? Well, you call the nearest neighbor in the hopes that he’s working at home that day. Then you try the Relief Society president to see if her son-in-law might possibly be home. No such luck. Then I thought of the pioneer women, those whose husbands were also gone, most for a lot longer than the week and a half mine will be away. They would come up with a solution of some kind.

I think the phrase came to me after I figured it out, but I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere, “If you can’t go forward, go back.” And that is what I did. With the hope that the grill on the tractor was substantial enough to withstand my back against it, I straightened out the front wheels and pushed. After several sessions of pushing (thanks for your non-assistance, Mr. Momentum!), we got into tractionable territory and I was able to drive it out. Needless to say, the very  bottom of the rest of the ditch was left for another day.

So I tried to follow the description that my husband had shared a few weeks before of how he just went around the house and kept going around and around and around. Yeah, I got the “around” part down pretty well. But there were still the puzzlements as to how you get around the clothesline posts and what to do about that patch that I missed way back there and now if I go back and get it the pattern will be broken. I did learn that there are a lot of second chances as you make your way through the process, times when you can slip over and trim up a neglected spot.

So I kept my appointed “arounds.” The grass is shorter than it was at 12:39 this afternoon when I walked out to the shop. Therefore, it won’t qualify for the dreaded “hayfield” categorization...unless, of course, you want to talk about the little mounds of grass that decided not to disappear like they do when my husband does the job. His always looks like the golf course people had just been there by the time he finishes.

And then I wondered if perhaps this was the “professional” syndrome I’d been thinking about lately. Have you ever noticed that even if you follow your mother’s recipe, the food just doesn’t taste the same when you cook it? Another of my bugaboos is painting. I’m not very good at it, don’t enjoy it, and fear I don’t do a very good job. However, there are still some walls in the house which bear the results of my efforts, no matter how imperfect they turned out to be.

That always makes me think of the story in the Book of Mormon about when Nephi’s steel bow broke, and the bows of the rest of the hunting party lost their spring. So they all sat down and cried, right? Well, I think the brothers did become angry with their brother for the loss of his bow in particular and theirs secondarily (though why they blamed it on him still escapes me!). But Nephi didn’t give in to despair. He simply went and found a piece of wood and made another bow. Now, was it as splendid as his steel bow? No. But was it functional? Yes. Did it get the job done? Yes. Thanks for the lesson, Brother Nephi.

So as I sit here recuperating and contemplating, I have decided that the main thing is that the job is done. Is it perfect? No, absolutely not. I’m not the professional my husband is in that category. And it doesn't look too bad. Still, I really hope no roving satellites take a close-up picture of our neighborhood today since I’m sure anyone who viewed it would think that whoever created those crop circles on that lawn down there must have been a bit tipsy.

But just like the bad haircut should not be mourned too intensely, the grass will grow again (even over the new little addition to the ditch in the front). In fact, it might even need to be cut again before the master gets home. And the weird mushrooms that I was too lazy to remove before smattering them to smithereens will eventually darken and not stand out like a sore thumb against the green grass.

Although we don’t get a “go around” when it comes to life, there will still be opportunities to get it right—most while in mortality and perhaps some even after that (although I’m not sure it’s wise to put it off).

So I will keep trying to figure it out. I’ll pioneer where necessary and appreciate the touch of the professionals when it’s available. And at the end, I trust I’ll be tired (like I am now) but basically satisfied that I did the best I could. I hope that’s the case, anyway.