A Tale of Two (Lawn) Tractors

Home, from the fishpond.
Home, from the fishpond.

Yesterday was a regularly scheduled mowing, and just as Johnny Yuma, who was a rebel, wandered along, I wandered around, and while my ramblings were more predictable in route, they did involve unexpected pauses.

I started out on one lawn tractor – they used to be called riding lawn mowers until riders became slightly more smug – and ended up on another. I have a backup mower, er, tractor. At one time, I was going to sell it. I’m so glad I didn’t. At some point every summer, one goes to the shop. This year I didn’t make it through spring.

As usual, I cut my yard and then rode over to my mother’s house along the side of the highway. At some early point in the diminution of her front yard, I noticed no actual diminution was taking place. In the vernacular of my farm boyhood, I lost the PTO. That’s “power take-off,” which means, in this instance, the blades stopped turning. Once I stopped, I realized this was accompanied by the smell of burning rubber, which, in turn, undoubtedly involved one of the belts that, yes, turn the blades.

This tree's roots make mowing around it complicated.
This tree’s roots make mowing around it complicated.

Fortunately, my John Deere still ran like one, so I motored back over to my house.

Also fortunately, I had repaired the tire on the “backup,” that being my older White lawn tractor. Unfortunately, it was still in the bed of my old pickup, the tire, that is, so I called my nephew away from his duties – snipping overhanging branches with hand shears and tidying up the area around the house and near the fence with the “push mower” – so that he could assist me in mounting the left-rear tire, which, in concert with the other three, is vital to the operation of a lawn tractor.

Then, of course, we had to “jump it off,” which is not unusual for a riding mower that has sat idle since early last fall.

Surprisingly, I took all these unanticipated annoyances in stride. Perhaps it was the beauty of the day and the presence of an iPod in my shirt pocket.

On Monday, I’ll load the John Deere on the pickup – its bed is full of clipped branches now – and take it to the shop.

Then, when the John Deere is working again, it’ll be the White’s turn to break down.

This is the Law of Two Mowers, and it’s holy writ.


Do you live near New Orleans? I’ve got a book signing there, at Garden District Book Shop, on Thursday, May 15. Contact me at duttonm@bellsouth.net if you know someone I can invite to hear about my novels, The Intangibles and The Audacity of Dope.


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