I have joined a movement called ‘No-Mo Me’. This is by far the best thing I’ve ever done. It involves no meetings, no commitments, no extra work – it really means nothing to do.
Stumbled upon the incident quite by accident. I was at my front gate a few weeks ago and was wondering if I would mow the lawn or wait a day or two until it was dry.
A neighbor stopped and said, “I see you’re doing no-mo-me.” I was tempted to answer “of course”, pretending that I know everything about everything, but that was the first I heard about it.
When I admitted my ignorance, she explained that people around the world are choosing not to cut their lawns in May. This is to allow wild flowers, especially dandelions, to bloom and provide nutrition for bees, butterflies, birds and all kinds of living things.
Many insects, worms and snails will be spared from the mangling done by the lawn mower and streamer at the same time.
I can’t say that I was excited at the prospect of letting the grass go crazy. We already have a wildflower garden and, while most of the site is wooded, I keep a main section in controlled lawn conditions. Describing it as a manicure would be a stretch.
For years I have been a diligent mower. One of the first things we invested in after buying a home was a ride-on mulching mower.
I thought that mulching would be healthier than putting a pile of mowed grass in one place, but, like many of my attempts to do the right thing, it was wrong. Clearly leaving dead grass scattered around is not good for ground level insect life.
The notion of not mowing the lawn during the month of May made great biological sense, but I must say, I found it difficult to stop the mower to impose manners on unruly grass and weeds.
I was having withdrawal symptoms. The vegetation growing thicker and taller with nothing to do was an itchy nose wearing a straitjacket.
With his powers as a man in the late Middle Ages and his skill in decline, mowing is one of the few tasks that gives a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It is a function that has a beginning, middle and end as well as a clear and measurable result.
The fruits of my labor could be clearly seen as I trampled on my weeping horse in the woods, leaving neat rows of short grass in my wake.
I think mowing the lawn is appropriate for men: it meets our need for demonstrative achievement, our need for a before and after, where results are all-important.
So women leave control of the weed to us: they believe it will make the man feel good about himself without any effort on his part.
You could argue that mowing the lawn is an unconscious choice for sex. There is all the learning in that. It may also be worthy of a doctoral thesis.
Anyway, I fought the temptation to crank up the lawnmower, even though the sight of uncontrolled growth became too much for my inner manicurist.
I tried to wean myself from wanting to give the grass a tight shave by increasing the height of the blade. However, no matter how high I raised it, the cheese shredded buttercup and dandelion and turned the daisy into a patch of white dust.
I experienced a sort of Pauline transformation when the powdering of flowers struck me more deeply than the sight of lifeless vegetation. I soon found myself happy to save myself from the chore of mowing and to realize that the proper thing to do was not work at all.
Now, I can walk around the garden and see what Mother Nature does best without interference from me and my noisy machine.
I’m tempted to put up a sign on the emerging forest telling her ‘Go for it, baby. Somehow the current wife can veto such a move.
We are prone to think that nature is chaotic, and regard ‘taming the wild’ as one of the major achievements of man. Like the Mandarins of all great empires, we like to believe that it is our calling and our destiny to impose order on a chaotic world.
But the opposite is the case: Nature has its own order, and humans are agents of chaos. The time has come for us to find respect for the way nature controls the planet and let it take its course.
Thanks to the no-mo, I can leave the lawnmower in the shade for a few more weeks while I enjoy the yellows, purples, whites and blues blooming all around. Birds, bees and insects certainly have a ball. Let’s leave them at this.