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The Lawnmower Guy

A postcard description of life as seen from a morning walk.

It’s early morning and the park is quiet. It had been a busy weekend though, and the relaxed lockdown laws had seen the masses descend upon the park in droves, unfortunately leaving their debris behind in piles by the side of the overflowing bins. Pigeons, foxes and squirrels now saw it as their mission to spread the garbage far and wide, perhaps to advertise the abandoned litter and shame the perpetrators.

How soon we all forget and fall back into bad habits.

I walked under what I call the ‘tree runway’, a half-mile stretch of path where the trees loom overhead and bend into one another like they are attempting a rugby scrum, and the pedestrians walking beneath must be protected and shuttled safely to their destination. On either side of the path, behind the trees, is grassland. It’s grown long and dry and yellow, basking in the relentless sunshine of the recent and unexpected heatwave.

On one side a single strip has been cut, all the way along, like a barber had stopped halfway through a haircut. It strikes me as strange and I wonder as I walk why someone would do this, and then I see ahead of me at the end of the field, the lawnmower guy.

I actually hear him before I see him but as I walk on and he gets closer I get a longer look at him. He’s driving a tractor, to my untrained eye, but that description might be doing it an injustice and cause furious anger amongst the gardening police. It may well be a lawnmower. It’s a big machine either way, and he drives it like it’s a racing car. One hand on the wheel, the other on a gearstick, and a cigarette dangling out of his mouth. He is blissfully unaware of anybody else as he powers down the field, desperately trying to move in a straight line.

The sunlight reflects blindingly off the front chrome bumper and I squint as the bouncing rays are too much even for my sunglasses. Dust flies up in clouds as the long dried earth is broken apart under the wheels. Freshly cut grass undulates in waves beneath the machine as it moves, spewing out behind it in a trail of green glory. The smell of the grass mingles with the trail of petrol smoke billowing out of the exhaust at the rear of the cabin where the lawnmower guy sits, and as he flicks his ash into the air and breathes a perfectly formed cloud out of his mouth, he adds his tobacco trail to the essence of that morning.

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