The Human Roomba

Today it was my turn. Jeff usually mows the lawn. Ours is probably two acres of the manicured part. The rest is wild. And our bee, butterfly, and bird friends thank us for it. Untouched and full of wild flowers.

Jeff is a busy guy during the week. It hardly seems fair that he should wake up on a Saturday morning to ride around for three hours on the mower, although he seems to glean tremendous satisfaction when he is done. But he has other hobbies he could and should be pursuing.

You might ask why we don’t hire someone to do this task for us, and my answer is simple. We are farmers now. We don’t hire out. We do things ourselves. We’re like the Amish with zippers.

So today, I got out my Orvis blue checkered UV protected shirt, my painting overalls, a pair of work gloves, RayBans, then my new wide brimmed farm hat I procured on market day in Melide. Then I went out to the barn, climbed up on the mower and fired it up. No Problem.

From an observers point of view, seated on a deck chair with a glass of chilled vino rosado, this hardly seems like a chore. Driving back and forth. I mean, how hard could it be? Forrest Gump did it for fun and he had an IQ below 90. But it turns out, it’s not as easy as it might appear at first glass. (That’s not a typo)

There are trees, and buildings, and the car. And the lawn isn’t quite as flat at it looked previously, from that chair on the patio. I was making progress. It was going smoothly, until I hit a wall. No, not an actual wall. The wall delineating the boundaries of my attention span and patience. It took two whole passes.

Surely, I must have been at this for hours by now. I was sweating in the 20 degree heat. Sun was blazing down upon me at 10am. I was parched looking back at the house. When had I last consumed liquid? It had to be hours. I could feel my dehydration building. I checked my watch. What?!? Five fucking minutes?!? How is that possible? Then I looked out at the expanse of lawn I had left to do. Was he kidding me? This was going to take for-ev-er! And where was Jeff, anyway? Inside playing a game on the PS something-or-other? Ugh.

I turned back towards the gate for another pass. Pilgrims waved but I barely waved back. Grouchy, I had already learned that I can not abide going in straight lines. Back and forth. What am I, a drone? No. I must blaze my own trail. And I am backed up on this by science. Or at least my old robotic vacuum.

We bought a Roomba many years ago. V1. When we fired it up the first time we noticed it didn’t vacuum in a straight line. It took time to learn the room. Then it vacuumed until it covered the entire surface in a seemingly random set of movements. Jeff couldn’t watch it. I mostly ignored it. That’s the whole reason you buy a Roomba, so you can ignore it. And vacuuming in general.

But today, I decided to channel my inner Roomba and throw hundreds of years of the rules of lawn mowing out the window. There’s got to be more than one way to cut 2 acres of grass. And I would find it.

First of all, its a sunny day in Palas. Yes, we have more than a hundred trees in that two acres. But, there are wide open stretches that make it hot to be mowing that area. So I decided I would break the areas up and incorporate some shade in each section. I wouldn’t limit myself to the traditional approach because that required too many 180 degree turns. I would embrace a more arched, half moon-like philosophy. Broad, sweeping passes. Then, more surgical strikes. All to minimize open sun exposure, and maximize shade.

Jeff came out and watched me cut a tear dropped shape in front of the barn. I caught the look he threw my way. He rolled his eyes, shook his head, then threw his arms in the air. What? I mouthed. There was a method to my madness.

It took three hours. I couldn’t hear my Amazon music playlist over the mower so I had to sing Beyonce’s Lemonade album to myself. I must say, I sound just like Bey, in my head😉

When finished, I returned the mower to the barn, even backing it in, just like I found it. I came in the house and took off my hat, announcing I had completed the job.

‘Interesting’ was Jeff’s opening salvo. ‘I notice you don’t favor a straight line.’

I was ready for him. ‘Yes, well I am a free spirit. Us creative types aren’t sheep like so many others in the flock I could mention. We are people who see things differently. Where you see grass, I see a canvas.’ And with that, I made a grand sweeping gesture with my arm for dramatic effect.

But he was having none of it. ‘It’s our lawn. And now it has random circles in it. And places you sort of missed.’

‘Pish Posh.’ I told him. ‘Clearly you’ve never waxed your legs. Everyone knows you do your initial pass. Then you do something else. Then, while you’re watching tv, you look down and see that whole area you missed. You can’t see it until then. It’s like snow blindness. That’s when you go back over it. The lawn needs to settle. Then I’ll see all the stuff I might have missed.’

But Jeff wasn’t buying it. He went over his back and forth methodology, again. And tried to impress upon me the importance of order.

‘It’s why I like to overlap my passes by 4-6 inches. No more, no less. That way I don’t miss anything.’ He explained.

‘That would require me to go back and forth.’ I reminded him. ‘But, I don’t like back and forth. I like to weave in an even mix of sun and shade. Figure 8’s are my friend. And I like to see new things. That’s why I drove all the way to the back before I finished the front. The front was boring. You gotta mix it up. Otherwise, it’s like being on a chain gang. No one likes that.’

Finally, he gave up and went upstairs. It was then I looked out the window and realized that we are never going to agree on our approach to our farm tasks. And tomorrow’s wood pile stacking should be very interesting.

10 thoughts on “The Human Roomba

  • A riding mower? Blasphemy! The. Again, I’m on more of an urban setting but just finished mowing our slightly more than half acre. Great exercise and more than 6000 steps. Time for a nap.

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  • I got such a kick out of your post. My husband is a creature of habit. He will do the exact same thing the same way forever. He will eat the same thing every day and be okay with it. He will drive the same road day in and day out. That’s him. I’m always driving a new road, finding a new way, looking for new things on my walks, drives, eats. Predictably unpredictable. It’s the way to live. I may be a linear thinker (engineer) but I love letting the creative side loose. You had fun and grabbed shade and got the job done for now!

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    • If you tell me your husband eats chicken noodle soup every day then I’m pretty sure you are living with Jeff. I, too, ascribe to the philosophy of being Predictably Unpredictable. The only way to keep life interesting.

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  • Jose Andres, the international chef and provided of food to all, is in Palas de Rei at Parada del Postas and it sounds like he’s walking the camino! He cooked with the chef at the hotel and posted 6 hours ago after a long day of walking. So get your chaise lounge out early tomorrow! I just love this guy and have so much respect for him. We support his World Central Kitchen because of the glorious work he does in providing food to people in need when bad things happen. He is right there whether it’s hurricanes (Puerto Rico) or Coronavirus (New York medical workers). I’m really happy to see he’s walking ❤️

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