The ponder seat

6 comments on The ponder seat
2 minutes

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 responses to “The ponder seat”

  1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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. Melissa Waggoner Dieckmann Avatar

    To be fair, if you only drove your car once a week for a couple of hours, and only for about 6-8 months out of the year, you could probably get 17 years out of it too.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good point. Heck, I’d probably get 30 years out of a car if that’s all I drove it.

  3. pesoto74 Avatar

    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.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      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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