The tiny Nova Scotia community of West Head should have “Rock” in its name. The spit of land is made of millions of rocks, from the tiniest pebbles to boulders, covered by a thin layer of acidic soil here and there. Like icebergs, rocks that peek through the surface could be be as big as a house.

For almost 200 years, sheep roamed West Head, keeping much of the grass under control. Families burned their fields in spring and left them until the next year. Those without sheep and who did not want to burn, got my Dad and brother, Edsel, to cut their pastures with a well-used scythe from a previous generation and Dad kept the hay for his sheep.

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And then one day everything changed. An unfamiliar sound filled the air. Whatever could it be? The obnoxious, pollution-spewing lawnmower replaced the rhythmic, gentle swish of the scythe.

Uncle Aubrey gave us his old lawnmower, but Dad was too busy fishing and farming to cut the grass. Somehow the job fell to me. Dad may have bribed me with $1.00, enough money for chips, a chocolate bar and a pop.

The most difficult part was starting the relic with a ripcord. I wrapped the cord around and around and then yanked it as hard as I could, praying it would start on the first pull. Holy cow!  At summer’s end, I had impressive muscles in my right arm!

“Now, Sarah,” Dad warned, “watch out for them rocks.”
Mom declared, “You just leave me alone. Why would I run over rocks?”

We heard the undeniable sound of the lawnmower blade making contact with a rock far more often that Mom would ever admit.

The situation grew tense from time to time. There is one lawnmower incident we will never forget. Mom was mowing while Dad sat outside mending nets that had been torn extensively by a humpback whale Dad named “Three-Toe.”  Why “Three-Toe?” The whale had a cut in its tail fluke which created the third “toe.”

Mom was coming closer and closer and Dad was getting a little hot under the collar and shouted, “Sarah, stay away from this starvegutted net. I’ve been workin’ on it for a week.”

“I’m not gonna run over your precious net with the lawnmower,” Mom shot back.


Mom viewed it as a challenge to prove to Dad she could get within a fraction of an inch of the net. In the heat of the exchange, I heard the lawnmower grind to a halt as the net wrapped itself around the blade. I knew better than to hang around to see what happened. I do not recall the outcome, but the net may have gone straight to the burn barrel or the dump.

Mom also had a history with rusty anchors hidden in the grass. Every now and then Dad would say sarcastically, “Sarah, I see you’re gittin’ the old anchors all shined up.”

Mom could get a little sassy and always had to have the last word and spouted, “Never you mind. I bet Joyce doesn’t have to put up with anchors when she mows.

For reasons we do not understand, Mom turned into a wild woman with a lawnmower. She engaged in dangerous lawnmower practices. Dad would caution her, but it was like waving a red cloth at a bull. Mom had to prove him wrong.

Mom cut the grass until the day she died.

My brothers and I had good reason to be skeptical that Dad would take over. Nope. Instead he turned into Red Green and his crew of rednecks at Possum Lodge to simplify cutting grass. Dad spent months trying to invent a way to pull the push mower behind his four-wheeler. Despite the admirable effort, the project failed.

I do not know if grass grows in Heaven, but if there is, I believe Mom pushed the Apostles out of her way and declared herself Chief Mower.