Meditation on My Slice of Green

Abby and I live on the same 12-acre patch as Abby’s former mother-in-law, Dorothy Milligan. Dorothy regards us as family, and we like that. Dorothy was married to George Milligan for 50-something years, and George spent many of his summer days mowing on his John Deere lawn tractor. When he died in 2006, care of the patch passed to me.

Abby's Rose-of-Sharon that Line Our 75-yard-long Driveway
Abby's Rose-of-Sharon that line our 75-yard-long unpaved driveway

Twelve acres is a lot of land. Some of it is woods, some of it is pasture, and a piece of it is a pond. I only mow a fraction of it, and that fraction varies depending on the weather, my mood, how I want to manage the look of the property, and so on. I would guess that typically during the spring and summer I mow about four acres of it. I parcel it off in my head so I can get parts of it done; the Golf Course, the South 40, the Peach Orchard, the Brush Pile, the Rose Garden, My Orchard, the Place Where We Shoot Our Guns, Dorothy’s Yards, Our Yards, and so on.

Last night I mowed the Golf Course, the biggest single slice of “lawn” out there. As I mowed, as always, I contemplated. First and foremost I thought about the mowing itself. I tried to map out in my head the most efficient route to mow. But I also I thought about life. I thought about Abby. I thought about my Facebook friends, old and new. I thought about my old girlfriends and where they are or might be now. I thought about society, gasoline, flowers, sunshine, bugs, snakes, peaches, motor oil, taxes, mailboxes, tomatoes, the pond, frogs, elm trees, the city, the country, the world, my mortality…

You get the idea. Mowing might be the most contemplative thing I do all summer.

The John Deere lawn tractor on the South 40, just before sunset, with the Rose-of-Sharon in the background
The John Deere lawn tractor on the South 40, just before sunset, with the Rose-of-Sharon in the background


  1. “Twelve acres is a lot of land”

    A lot of people don’t realize how large an acre actually is. Considering that a full football field (including end zones) is about 1.3 acres might give them a better picture.

    The “lot” that Marline and I are having our house built on is tiny by comparison. Our lot is 11.76% of an acre (or about 1/8). When you subtract the house size, I’ll actually only be mowing 7.3% of an acre (or about 1/13).

    Even less once I subtract the square feet of the driveway, the sidewalk that will run across it, the block that the A/C unit sits on, the back porch, and so on.

    In other words, my contemplation will have to take place much faster than yours. :-)

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