Sunday was hot and humid -just like the rest of this week has been. I squatted in the grass with the hose, spraying chunks of green grass out from the deck blades of the tractor mower. I chiseled at the crevices with a paint scraper. Water splashed off the metal and back in my face. My arms were covered in green slime. Everything smelled like seaweed. Standing in a puddle of old wet grass, my sneakers were soaked and brown. I was filthy. Each time the water hit the mower deck and splashed back on my skin I thought to myself:
“This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. This is wonderful.”
It reminded me of childhood summers when my sister and brother and I played with the hose on steamy July days. Days when fans and icecubes had no sway. We would play with the hose for so long that we flooded a section of the backyard. We flipped the plastic picnic table upside down and pretended it was a boat. We ran the hose over a Little Tikes slide and imagined we were at a waterpark. By the end of the day our skin was puckered and translucent. We were covered with grass that clung to our wet shins and dirt that had splashed back onto us. The baby sitter was mortified…more about my parents’ water bill than the state of our cleanliness.
The more layers of grass I removed from the mower deck the more I uncovered. This was clearly a chore I’d put off for weeks. I had no idea it would be so lovely. Overhead the jays were making a commotion. I looked up and saw other birds flying toward the distress calls. Swallows plummeted from the sky into the trees where the jays were calling. Soon a red-tailed hawk emerged and all the birds followed after it, hollering. After awhile they disappeared into the forest.
When I finished cleaning the mower deck I turned the hose on myself, scraping smears of paint off my legs, leftover from when I painted the new front porch steps that morning. Eric came over and I scraped aluminum roofing goo off his legs. He sealed the porch roof above me while I painted.
I took off my sneakers and set them to dry in the sun, hoping the heat would kill the stink of stagnant compost they picked up on Saturday morning after I flipped our most active pile.
Barefoot, I squished through the grass to shut off the hose. And if I had had a small plastic picnic table, I would have flipped it over and called it a boat.