Summer in Minnesota– tis the season for mowing grass. With an abundance of rain, that means that the lawnmower needs firing up every week. Since our daughter has graduated from college and moved home for the summer, Mom has stipulated that the required 4 hours of mowing each week will be her job in exchange for rent. And just last year, we bought a new – well a slightly used- green John Deere riding mower. On the farm, we always had John Deere tractors and so I am somewhat prejudiced towards this brand. My thinking is that we should be able to have trouble free mowing for at least a few years.
“MOM!” My in-depth concentration in the book I am reading is interrupted. “I can’t get the mower to go around. I was just mowing along when it stopped and it won’t restart.”
Alright, this is a new mower with less than 100 hours on it so there can’t be that much wrong with it. “I’m coming. Let’s go see what we can figure out.”
I plop in the seat and turn the key. The tractor motor snaps right off so no problem there. The brake is on, the mower up. I disengage the still silent mower and re-engage it. I do it again. Nothing. I know nothing about this tractor but I flop in the soft freshly mown grass and begin to inspect the various working components on the mower deck. The belt that drives the mower seems looser than it should be and I soon discern that the belt has come off the pulley. On our other mower, it was pretty simple to replace the belt. Certainly, we can fix this. I just need to find the place where I can loosen the tension on the belts and slip it back on. But no such place seems to exist.
The sweat has begun to pour off of me in the 90-degree heat. I guess it is time to find the owner’s manual and see what it has to say. I can’t find anything about the mower in the troubleshooting section. Frustrating would be an understatement. Finally, I find a section that says, “disengage (tension) rod from the retaining bracket by rotating rod counterclockwise.” Nice thought. But how am I supposed to do that. There is a huge spring that I can’t begin to budge holding it securely. This is ridiculous. “It can’t be that hard,” I say to Daughter. Finally, I have a brilliant idea. Forget taking anything apart or turning it any way. I lay down on the ground and prop my right foot against the offending pulley and push with all my strength. “See if you can get the belt on now,” I instruct. And just like that it is fixed. Yahoo!!
“And so this is why I can’t depend on a man to fix things,” the insight dawns on Daughter, “because the men are never around when things need fixing.”
“You are so right.” I confirm.
Without another hitch, the lawn soon is looking prim and neat. But as I walk behind the lawn mower in the garage later in the day, a puddle of oil is enlarging drip by drip onto the concrete floor. Closer inspection reveals that the transmission oil pan is empty. Oh no!
“Will you help me hook up the trailer and load the lawnmower on Monday so I can take it to the dealer?” I implore my daughter. I don’t see any other solution to this problem.
Monday morning, dark ominous clouds grace the western sky and soon buckets of rain come pouring down. Well, I am not about to get wet hooking up the pickup to the trailer so we can haul this lawnmower. Within the hour, the clouds have parted and the sun comes peeking out. Time to hook up the trailer. I grab the truck keys off the key rack and turn to head out the door.
“Hey, I thought I was going to drive the truck,” demands Daughter.
No problem. I no longer, in this life, feel a need to prove my proficiency in these kinds of pursuits. These tasks sometimes just feel more like a struggle that needs to be done especially since my neck no longer is flexible enough to actually turn so I can see to back a vehicle. It is time to let the younger generation develop their skills and prove themselves. I have always told my daughter that there is no excuse for being a helpless woman. And today, she proves she is not helpless. With only a couple of corrections, she does a pretty efficient job of backing up that trailer with the pickup.
With the lawnmower safely deposited at the dealer for repairs, we wait while the grass grows tall and green again.