Today, after five years of threatening, I decided I WAS going to use the mower. This mower:

No, the cute dude isn't an option.

No, the cute dude isn’t an option.

The one my Dad bought to mow this big field in which my parents house (and now my Aunt’s and mine) sits.

Daddy taught me to mow with it the first summer he had it. It seemed a splurge at the time–but I’d watched the poor guy mow the field/yard for 15 years using a standard riding mower. It took all day. I didn’t begrudge him the mega-mower, and loved how much he delighted in it. Aside from the fact it was way cool.

It’s a daunting machine–no steering wheel, no gas or break/clutch pedals. You run it with two levers (one left, one right) which you push or pull to go forward or back, their positions determining the arc of the curve you’re going to make. I knew I needed a brief refresher course, so I chose to start in the back yard (as in WAYYYY back in the back–along the fence line at the edge of the property, where no one could see my awkward attempts at keeping the thing running, much less MOWING with it).

Once I finally figured out the combination of lever positions, key, brake, speed of engine, seatbelt use, and apparently barometric pressure and level of ether in the atmosphere, I jolted my way forward…along the hayfield which borders the land on the right, figuring if my line wasn’t exactly “straight” the hay might hide it, as opposed to the house, which wouldn’t fare too well if I got “sy-gogglin”.

First pass, not too shabby. I got more familiar with the controls (and didn’t stall the engine). Soon I was almost zipping along (although “zipping” is relative–someone could’ve out-walked me I’m sure), mowing a wide swath and singing “Carolina In the Morning” at the top of my lungs. (The fact no one could hear me sing giving me confidence rather than serving as a warning.)

45 minutes into the mowing experience, and feeling giddily confident at my skills (yet still NOT going TOO fast), I decided the front deck was high enough off the ground that I could definitely mow far enough under it to hit the *cough* foliage which was growing where the sun hit. I executed a glorious 45 degree right turn, scaling very close to the foundation of the house and gloating in my skill and knowledge, paying NO mind to the fact that there is no engine housing in FRONT of the driver on these machines. There is nothing but a low deck…unlike all riding mowers I’d ever used in the past. And..before I knew it…my shins were trapped between a mower seat and the cross support on the deck.

As I frantically looked for “REVERSE” (there is no stick shift on this thing!) I realized the pressure from the mower was not decreasing. An unbridled “OWWWWW!” rose in my throat and as I screamed (a scream NO ONE COULD HEAR), I had the presence of mind to let go of the two “left and right” levers. At least the forward pressure eased. I had not yet decided how to relieve it completely, but once blood flow was restored I grasped a faint glimmer of hope–a memory–my Dad saying “You pull back to back up and push forward to go forward”!! I grabbed both levers, the scream waning as I ran outta breath, and pulled back. SUCCESS!!



I wasn’t exactly “straight” on my approach…the left side of the mower was forward of the right side and I could only move the mower enough to relieve the pressure, not enough to disentangle myself and my poor shins. I could only back up so far before bumping the foundation of the house. Therein lay the problem.

I managed to wiggle the mower back and forth, left and right, enough to pull my feet up onto the seat where I was sitting, thereby avoiding pinching the shins again, and was able to pull farther under the porch and make a hard turn to the right as I reversed, freeing the mower (and myself).

I was afraid to look down. The pain was excruciating and I (being who I am) was convinced I was now at the minimum sporting bi-lateral breaks in my tibiae and fibulae…but more likely spurting dark arterial blood from my amputated lower legs. Yeah. Definitely an amputation-level accident.

I stopped the mower (again without using a brake–you move the levers to a “neutral” position to stop). I peered down at my shins…and noticed two deep purple horizontal lines across them. SERIOUSLY?? I pin myself between a huge piece of lawn equipment and (what used to be) a mighty, sharp-cornered great fir, believing that once the pressure was released I would bleed out and die…and I get two (line-shaped) BRUISES?? No breaks? Not even a crack? ARGH!!!

At this point I couldn’t decide my next move. Do I continue mowing and risk blood clots heading to my brain (because it’s obvious those tiny bruises are clot-making machines), or do I park the mower, admit defeat (to my daughter who told me “DO NOT MOW!!”) and retreat to the house for ice bags?

That was a stupid question. I levered-up and started mowing again as if nothing had happened. I was fairly certain that the additional minutes of mowing would reveal those bruises to actually be far larger than expected. And motley. Very motley. Gory even.

I completed the front yard, even making a couple of passes along the road so the grass was blown off into my yard. I took the show to the back yard, bemoaning my aching shins, and mowed there, too. Looked down at the shins again…not even the skinny horizontal purple lines remained. To be fair, there was (and still is) significant pain. There’s just no outwardly visible sign that I did, indeed, cheat death at the hands of a mower and a deck. “Disappointing” doesn’t begin to describe it.

It’s been 8 hours. The mower is back in its shed, the grass growing again at an alarming rate (I’m sure). And the shins still ache like a toothache. But only I know this. For my shins are Ninja shins–they bruise on the inside! They don’t SHOW pain! (To quote Eddie Murphy in “Trading Places”).

I will mow again next week. Kubota, we will meet again.