All things have their season. Their moment in the sun. As I drag the mower from my shed for the last time this year I glance skywards to see if I have the minutes I know I will need to finish the job before the heavens open and moment is lost to bleak rain.
The winter mow is not a happy ritual. It is the closing ceremony to the summer’s games, a recognition of the inevitable onset of the new season, an acceptance of celestial supremacy.
I rake crisp leaves and pine needles to prepare the way, each pile a palette of golds and browns. The grass is studded with small and fragile fungi, damp with cold, mingling with the autumn fruits. There is sun, but weak and low it is more of a privilege than a right.
The Hayter coughs then fires, settling to a steady thrum. Together we lurch out as I engage the drive. A warm October has fuelled a thickening of the grass which is eagerly consumed leaving ordered strips of lawn, pocked with flattened worm-casts and fringed by a fine blend of ground grass and leaves. Roses look on, once fat and splendid now withered-limp and mildewed. I bump over fir-cones, hearing them vaporise in the blades like moths in a fan.
The job done, the mower is parked amid spiders, cans and tools. I imagine it hearing me, its jailer, lock the shed and recede; knowing that the frequency of summer weekend visiting-hours will change now. Frosts will come and days will shorten. The wildlife know this and like me they head for protection. As the engine cools its heart ticks, rapid at first then slowing. Eventually to silence.