Lots of little extras came with the home my husband and I fell in love with a dozen or so years ago. Things you simply can’t put a price on—like the infinitely practical slab of concrete in the back yard that begs to be festooned with chalk and filled with a bevy of bikes and scooters. Never mind its intended purpose as a basketball court. Additional nuggets of goodness for which I cannot readily assign a price: its breathtaking view of the city—especially at night, its perfectly situated vantage point for savoring both sun and moonrises, the massive shade trees that pepper the property and welcome cool breezes come summertime, its sprawling sea of grass and little islands of blooming things that continue to thrive despite my anything-but-green thumb, its great canopy of pines—hollowed out to perfection for the ultimate secret hideout, the way it’s nestled into a hillside as if nature had intended it all along.
Of course, its interior boasts extras as well—like the wealth of space we never dreamed we’d need (for the voluminous and ever expanding cache of kid paraphernalia we now own). Like the creaky floors—which I’m told add character, the cavernous closets which time and again have been transformed into drool-worthy clubhouses, the generous bank of windows through which sunlight abundantly pours (even more so when I’m inspired to scrub them) and the utterly priceless feature that enables anyone at any time the freedom to flush without fear of scalding some poor schmuck in the shower. For all these inordinately precious things I have been grateful since Move-in Day 1997.
And yet, there was more.
In the garage, a riding lawn mower awaited us. It came with the house—which puzzled me greatly. “Had the sellers forgotten to take their mower? Who forgets a mower?” I had to wonder. Silent and still the 16 horsepower entity in question sat on the cool concrete as my husband and I circled to inspect it. Its less-than-pristine condition soon became apparent. It was a worn and weary, pitifully dilapidated, off-brand bastard-of-a-thing that was apparently left behind ON PURPOSE. Forsaken by its owners. Perhaps left-for-dead—or at least left to die in peace rather than to be put through the trauma of a big move. Who knew?
At any rate, we would soon adopt said woebegone tractor—for better or for worse. Of course, we didn’t expect much from this has-been, fickle-minded, backfiring beast on wheels. Surely, its days were numbered. Indeed, as any good skeptic would assert, each and every start of its engine was deemed a gift from God.
Years passed, however, and we came to learn that beneath that flimsy and oh-so-drab-looking shell beat the heart of a gladiator. A lord of the lawn. A survivor in the truest sense of the word. Granted, it was (and still is) a hideous site to behold with its obliterated grill, missing headlights, dangling bundles of wire and exposed innards (i.e. a jumbled mass of machinery that was once neatly housed under a hood the likes of which has since fallen off completely—cleverly held in place with bungee cords and whatnot). An embarrassment, for certain. It’s a wonder we haven’t been banished from the neighborhood. But the silly thing still runs. Not like a deer, mind you; but it runs nonetheless, defying all odds, baffling our poor mechanic to no end and causing passersby to turn their heads in shame.
Stranger still, the stupid thing doesn’t seem to care that virtually no one had faith in its ability to endure a lifetime of untold hardships—to include bouncing and jouncing up and down our teeth jarring terraces and maneuvering again and again the twists and turns that define our property. Further, it pays no mind to our harsh words regarding slippage on slopes, to our reprehensible commentary suggesting that a goat could perhaps do a better job or to our incessant mockery of its inferior lineage. A thick-skinned creature, to be sure.
I wonder now what sort of mileage our seasoned warrior of weeds has logged and how many exceedingly dull (yet completely joyous!) laps around our yard it has journeyed with my kids in tow and their dad at the helm, dutifully pointing out tiger lilies and tulips, birds’ nests and burrows—gradually relinquishing command of the wheel as they became more adept with each passing summer.
Needless to say, we’ve grown quite fond of our dear hunk of junk. Undeniably, it’s family now and we can’t possibly imagine life without it. That said, we’re exceptionally grateful to have found it lurking in the garage—as opposed to anything remotely suggestive of a goat.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live (where the green grass grows and grows).
Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel