I wasn’t born yesterday, so I could see it coming. The family lawn mowing business has been getting bigger every year, giving rise to spin-offs where, one after the other, the boys have bought their own equipment, found their own customers, and moved on, leaving . . . yup. She who used to just make the sandwiches, pack the cooler, and watch over the youngest wee mower is now driving the John Deere.
Who would have thought that this could be a good thing? But lately, on the odd Saturday, when Morins are moving in all directions, it’s been just the two of us — my patient husband and I sitting alone in the front seat of the forest green pick-up truck having an entire conversation. As we drive to the first lawn, we catch up on our read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year-together-out-loud resolution, and maybe . . . just maybe, we’ll even get ahead on our reading. We spend moments talking about what we’ve read, because hearing the Truth allows us to listen to the words as they are formed, to notice different details. Reading chronologically, we delight in the soaring cadence of the Psalms, and then sputter together over the decline, the gradual but steady wheels-coming-off of the kingdom of Israel. And just as no one — not even one king over Israel — got out of his royal bed one morning and said, “Let’s apostacize and spurn the living God until we drag the whole nation into judgment and exile,” neither do the wheels come off a marriage all at once. Time spent together is like routine maintenance, necessary for our mowing equipment, and even more critical for our relationship in which time is needed for saying essential words:
How are we doing?
You’re still my favorite.
I love you.
In the summer time, in the beauty of green leaves and blue sky, we each notice privately that our years of working together in other ways have bred a wordless communication in our approach to a mowing job. As we open the cooler for lunch, we remark on the fact, gratified at this evidence of compatibility.
“Yes, this relationship could work. And it could keep on working.”
We gas up the thirsty mowers and tip back our frosty, cold water bottles in the shade, thankful to be filling up the tank of our relationship with time, meaningful work side-by-side, and leisurely conversation.
It’s true that we’re working hard, and the sun gets hot, and the routine gets monotonous. I look forward to dates with my true love that involve dress-up clothes, food that doesn’t come from a cooler, and leaving my grass-stained sneakers at home. Even so, I’ve noticed over the years only the slimmest correlation between expense and the enjoyment of an event; how an ice cream cone savored on a warm day with felicitous company is more scrumptious than a meal in a posh restaurant; how the chance symphony caught on the radio has, betimes, surpassed the concert hall.
Summer is short here in Maine, and even as its rich fruition is fleeting, so are our days. Teach me to number them, Lord, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. In this, the year of our twenty-fifth anniversary, I see clearly that a day spent mowing lawns with just the right person fulfills all the qualifications for a perfect date.
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