Friday, December 1, 2023

The Soapbox: 41 Lawn Mowers

Brandi Chambless

“Find a good old neighborhood. A square block of the USA.

Stake your claim. Claim your space. Sink your roots & live your days.

Build a fence. Close it in.

Raise a lawn and grow some kids. Make a name.

Name your friends. And that’s the American way to live.

Forty-one houses, only one street. Forty-one yards, Eighty-two trees.

Forty-one mowers all sitting in sheds. Forty-one families in over their heads and everybody’s got their own everything.”

Texas-based singer, songwriter, and producer Billy Crockett once penned one of the most telling songs of the 21st century when he penned “41 Lawn Mowers.” Somehow, I know in my gut that when our Founding Fathers saw this nation through its infancy, this was not what they had in mind.

After several months on the pandemic porch, neighbors are rethinking this whole new American Dream of getting what is mine because that is what I deserve.

Being socially distant has left America searching for a place just to be safe and alone in our aloneness.  That has not been easy to find when parks, movie theatres, spas, and stadiums have closed their doors.

For the outdoorsman, the pandemic has been a wonderful experience. Let’s go fishing. They have already known fishing was the best remedy for everything in life for many years now. Now the rest of the entire world was just pilfering around for a corner of the earth.

As an avid nature lover, I have flocked to fresh water respites for years, but none quite so primo as what I love to experience in the Ozarks. I am going to say for the pandemic vacay this year it’s going to be Arkansas for the win!

Getting lost on the bluffs of Ponca is where I want to be. Or anywhere that feels so fresh and free!

Not that I haven’t appreciated seeing that there is actually life across the street from me. One day I almost built up the courage to ask my neighbors their names. That is how far we have come. During these last months, nobody has cared about the forty-one stored lawn mowers on our street a month ago. One would have sufficed. We were all giving awkward waves and sharing supplies across the fence and meeting one another for the first time.

I took matters into my own hands and decided that if the world was going to run out of food that this girl was going to be ready.

The time was late in spring but I started working my garden with the lazy girl method. No till gardening. I used everything I could to square off my garden from where I abandoned it last winter. Once I finally acquired enough fresh dirt to plant, I again opted for the lazy girl method of broadcasting. I did this mainly because time was of the essence!

When broadcasting, you simply take a handful of seeds and throw them at your garden. Then you go inside and fix a glass of lemonade. You forget about the garden—but not me. I couldn’t do it.

Every morning I immediately throw back the covers and run to the garden to look at my sprouts. Oh how they delight my soul! Some are amazing and some provide a laugh. I just keep throwing seeds all the time.

I also believe in the lazy girl method of overcrowding. Just plant it all!

I accidentally threw some out of season turnip seeds in there and grew one whole pot of turnip greens. For breakfast one morning I went into the garden and picked my one bowl and blanched the greens for breakfast. They don’t write about this in fitness magazines but should!

Before long, my neighbors were asking me what I have growing in there. If they only knew that sunflowers and marigolds are about to pop up with my green beans! Nobody is staying on their side of the fence anymore. The pandemic has created an attitude of sharing conversation, time, and goods.

I will never forget my hours of the pandemic. I tried not to make it just about organizing closets, but about organizing the closet of my heart. Closets and shoes can wait until I’m required to get out there once again, but for now, I’ve found new gifts in my treasure chest that I didn’t know were there. This is the time to trust an unknown future to a known God who sees exactly where we might be going. I pray we never go back to the forty-one lawn mower life.

Brandi Chambless
Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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