Trim, clip, mow: A farewell to summertime maintenance

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Last week I got a note from the guy who mows my lawn. He’s headed back to college, and with him goes my yard maintenance. Sad? Not really.

Although I’m in no hurry to bid the summer ado, and would actually love to have my children on permanent vacation so I’d never again be subjected to the symphony of early morning alarm clocks, the news of my lawn boy’s departure makes me smile, not because I dislike him, but because it signals a decline in the two types of maintenance that cause me distress in the warmer weather — yard and body.

Although these two things may seem unrelated, they are really close cousins.

First, let’s talk about yards. Most of us know that the majority of yard maintenance in suburban America is performed by men. You are either married to the man who mows your lawn, dating him, have given birth to him, or you are paying a man, (or a veritable team of men), to do deal with yard-related chores.

Yes, lots of woman mow their own lawns and trim their own shrubbery. We are certainly capable of it. I’ve done it. My lovely mother, who is 25 years my senior, does it. She claims to actually enjoy yard work. I used to enjoy it, but that was because I was doing it in tandem with my husband — and getting sweaty together held a certain sex appeal.

In truth, I could not have cared less about the length of our grass or the state of our weeds.

When I moved to Maine with my children, one of my objectives was to find the smallest parcel of lawn possible. My fantasy is to live in the middle of a pine forest, with nothing but a soft carpet of pine needles underfoot. Or directly on the beach. Sand never requires mowing.

Sure it’s lovely when the grass begins to turn green after a long Maine winter. Sure it’s lovely when the first flowers begin to burst forth into bloom. But by August, things are out of control. We are growing prize-winning weeds that are taller than our birdbaths. The holly bush has expanded enough to potentially cause bodily harm to the meter-reader man, and I’m once again receiving threatening yellow notes from the electric company, demanding that I locate my hedge clippers.

In addition to a cessation of yard care, the gradual decline in body maintenance as summer winds down puts a lilt in my step, as well. The endless cycle of hair removal is enough to make any woman consider a life of sweatpants and possible celibacy, even in the dead of winter, but in the summer, things are ramped up to hyper-speed. And if you’ve shaved in the past few years, and have shopped for new razor blades, you know that they are now stored under lock and key. Like candy in a vending machine, you push the button, but it rarely works, and intervention from a CVS employee is usually required.

Of course, the reason razor blades are held under such tight security is due to the fact that, ounce for ounce, they now cost roughly the same price as diamonds.

I’ve read that women are supposed to use a brand new razor blade each time we shave our legs. If we lived in southern California, we could ostensibly be spending as much on razor blades as we do to have our lawns mowed.

And clearly, that just wouldn’t be right.

Recently, I felt that first foreboding chill in the air on an otherwise perfect summer’s day. Initially, this made me a bit sad, but then I found myself breathing a sigh of relief as the following thought overtook me: “Why bother weeding or mowing? Another six weeks or so, and the frost will kill off everything anyway. Hooray!”

For me, less weeding and less shaving puts a decidedly positive spin on the otherwise melancholy feelings that arise as our abbreviated summer season here in Maine sweetly, but surely, comes to an end.

And really, we need to grasp onto whatever we can to gain strength, as we prepare to face that first heating bill.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at or contact her at