COVID-19

Good grass, man

Another unexpected benefit of working from home through the pandemic is that I can dash outside between meetings and move the sprinkler.

Our front yard has had large bare patches since before I moved in. I tried to fix it a couple years ago, but I did it too late in the spring and the summer heat killed my wee grass.

This year I waited until the first of September. I took a couple days off for the job. I attacked the bare spots with my electric cultivator. Then I put down 18 bags of compost, piling it into the bare spots and raking about half-inch layer through the rest of the yard. Then I laid in the grass seed. I was able to buy a mix created specially for the climate here, resistant to drought and hardy against cold winters. Then came the watering, every day. It continues and will into October.

I relandscaped my last house, and I had to get up early to start the watering and continue it in the evening when I got home. Thanks to COVID-19, I just blend it into the workday. When a meeting ends, I move the sprinkler.

Isn’t my new grass cute?

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Schwinn Collegiate

Schwinn Collegiate
Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S
Fujifilm Fujicolor 200
2015

This is my 1986 Schwinn Collegiate 3-speed bicycle. It’s a Taiwan Schwinn, meaning purists look down their nose a little. But it’s sturdy and of good quality. I bet if I compared it part by part with my 1973 Chicago-made Schwinn Collegiate 5 speed, I wouldn’t detect significant quality differences.

I photographed the bike at Washington Park North Cemetery. I use cemeteries as backdrops a lot. I’ve made many portraits of my sons in them, and I shot a series of my bicycles in Washington Park North. I usually don’t show the cemetery bits in shots like those. But tomorrow I’ll share lots of photos from this cemetery. It’s a favorite subject because it’s within walking distance of my home.

Film Photography

single frame: Schwinn Collegiate

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Barn on the trail

Barn on the trail
Nikon N2000, 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor
Kodak Ektar 100
2015

Film Photography
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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.

MyTractor

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.

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