Stories Told

The ponder seat

I was reminded of this story from five years ago as I have been driving my old lawn tractor around the yard, picking up the fallen leaves. The tractor looks a little more beat up now, and comically its hood hinges both broke and are being held in place by two Vise Grips, but it still runs well.

This is where I do my best thinking.


My tractor was a birthday gift from my wife 17 years ago – the biggest and most expensive gift I’ve ever gotten. We had a half-acre yard full of mature, prolific trees. Before the tractor, every autumn Saturday my wife, stepson, and I went at full tilt all day raking and bagging fallen leaves. Those Saturdays were brutal, and woe betide us if we skipped one. I dreamed of driving a tractor around the yard, sucking up the leaves into a catcher, my family sitting on the patio sipping iced tea and smiling brightly and waving whenever I passed.

After the tractor came, of course I mowed the yard with it every week. It didn’t take long before I could do the work on autopilot, effortlessly navigating obstacles. The world slipped away while I drove my tractor. Even the Briggs and Stratton roar faded into the background, and my mind was free to think and dream. It was time just for me. I can’t remember any epiphanies or even darned good ideas that came from my ponder seat, but when I put the tractor back in the shed I was always mentally refreshed.

I’ve downsized to about a quarter of an acre where the autumn leaves are a more bearable chore. I could get by without a tractor now, yet I clean and tune up my tractor every spring for another season. I can’t believe it still runs after this many years – I wish my cars lasted as long! As long as it keeps starting, I’ll keep looking forward to my weekly mind-renewing trip around the yard.


6 thoughts on “The ponder seat

  1. Growing up in rural New York State, my parents had over an acre of lawn that needed mowing every week and as soon as I was tall enough to stand behind the Toro, it became my job. Took most of Saturday-back and forth, back and forth. I thought all my teenage thoughts behind that lawn mower and tried to figure things out. I had a big lawn in Phoenix too, years later as a married man, And I did a lot of thinking behind that mower too. Haven’t had a lawn in well over a decade and sometimes I miss that thinking time.

    • I must admit, thinking time is the only real upside to having a lawn. I could do without the loss of time, especially right now when the leaves are falling.

  2. I do some great thinking on the mower too. I often think that I would be a prolific blogger if somehow I could transfer my mowing thoughts directly to my blog.

    • Funny you should say that. I’ve tried dictating blog posts via voice as they come out of my head and they are junk. They require considerable editing to be anything I can publish.

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