It really is time to mow the grass. It’s getting to be embarrassingly long. Sure we live in a semi-rural area and it’s not so important to have the lawn clippy-clippy perfect—you may have noticed I called it the grass, not the lawn—but still, it’s “high” time (excuse the pun) to cut it.
The John Deere riding mower is parked in the half-finished storage shed. One wall of the shed is still open. Makes it easy to drive in and out with the mower.
I fill the gas tank from a fuel caddy. Screw the cap back on the tank. Need to check the oil. I lift the hood on the mower and let out a shriek. There, between the motor and the battery sits a fat rat. It shrinks together and stares at me with shocked beady eyes, then hops to the other side of the battery just before I drop the hood.
Now what? Well, first things first. I have to stand there and shake and shudder and groan and wail for a minute. No way can I sit in the driver’s seat now with the rat only inches away behind a thin wall of metal. And anyway, I still have to check the oil. No way can I lift the hood again and reach in to unscrew the dipstick. No way the grass is getting cut today. But I have to cut it. The sky is threatening rain in the next hours and the grass is already too long.
I find a pair of long-handled pruners and bang on the tires with them. Nothing happens. I bang on the hood. Nothing happens. I bang on the side of the mower. Something scurries to somewhere. But did it leave the mower or did it run to hide underneath it? Maybe it’s sitting on top of the mower blades.
Standing well back, I gingerly open the hood again. No rat in sight. Quick! Check the oil. Fine. Put the dipstick back. Drop the hood. Take a breath. Put my earplugs in. Start the mower.
I back it out of the storage shed. So far so good. I put the blade in gear and turn the steering wheel to start mowing. Was that a squeak from the steering wheel or a squeak from a rat? With the earplugs in, I can’t tell. Moments later, I realize the chute from the blades to the catcher bag is plugged. Is it the long grass, or something else? I stop the mower. Nervously, I use my garden claw to reach down into the chute. What will I pull up? Grass? Or pureed rat?
I have serious thoughts about moving closer to town, but I saw a rat run across the street in town one night, so I know they’re everywhere. I’ll just have to tough it out. Oh, you’ll be wanting to know what I pulled out of the chute. Only grass … this time. I can hardly wait till it’s mowing time again. Meanwhile I’m going shopping for full body armour.