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1000 Black Lines

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Where did the motor go? or going green in Asheville

A couple weeks ago I made a tough decision. I had inherited a beat up lawn mower years ago from a friend who left Asheville due to the city's abscence of high tech jobs. Last year the machine produced a loud grinding sound, a whine and a whimper. It has since collected dust in the barn. A neighbor's son mowed the lawn the remaining months of last summer.

With all the Spring rain here in the mountains, the grass grew quickly and need for lawn mowing became evident as early as late March. Replacing the transmission in the family car (we're a one-car family) depleted funds for a new lawn mower. With less than $150, I studied lawn care from every angle for several weeks. I could pay someone to mow the lawn or I could buy a lawn mower. Searching through several websites I realized it's more economical to take a trip to the local hardware store than to pay shipping costs for a cheap, used lawn mower. Add the price of gasoline (it would take at least $6 worth of gasoline to my mow my land) I even entertained the idea of buying a goat.

Task Force manual push mower
Two weeks ago, I settled on the idea of purchasing a manual push mower. I said it was a tough decision because I do not live on property with level lawn. It is considered a "sloped" property by the City of Asheville. And I would be the one manually marching up and down and around the various slopes. Did I mention I'm a desk jockey art director type?

It will be good exercise, I told myself. It will be good for the environment, I told myself. It won't cost $6 to mow the land, I told myself. The leader of the financial class I took a few months ago will be proud of me because I am staying within the budget. My chiropractor will love seeing me more often. It only requires minimal cost to maintain (a squirt or two of lubricant to keep the wheels and gears in motion).

My eldest child enjoyed the trip to the hardware store. It was his impression we were and should be shopping for a riding lawn mowing goliath. We stood before several riding lawn mowers that looked like they could be odd children of Humvee parents. When I showed him the 20 inch Task Force manual push mower he thought that was acceptable but questioned how the store model fit into such a small cardboard box. He was very excited when he got to help assemble the manual machine less than an hour later.

I have very little regrets about purchasing the 20 inch Task Force manual push mower. It is quite a work out. It doesn't cut as cleanly as a motored mower, but part of that is due to allowing the lawn to grow wild for a month in a half. Long grass tends to be pushed under the mower rather than cut my it. Several green mohawks sprout from those areas. Where a motored mower whould chew and spit twigs and barks, the manual mower simply stops and refuses to proceed. After removing the twip from the rotor blades, I continue. This allows me to know my lawn a bit more intimately. Instead of plowing through the chore of lawn care, I'm able to carefully examine the land I call home.

My politically conservative friends just roll their eyes and consider me a hippy while they drive their riding lawn mower goliaths across their half acre lot of land. My politically progressive friends admire my commitment to sustainable living while they continue to drive their hybrid SUVs. Funny thing happend last weekend, my wife and I stopped by Greenlife Grocery to pick up a few organic items and the first two rows in the parking lot were all SUVs. I expect that at Ingles, but not Greenlife. My digital camera was not available at the time. Otherwise, I would have snapped a few photos to display the irony of a Greenlife storefront crowded with gas guzzling SUVs.

In some respects, going green is quite chic in Asheville. There are a lot of fine establishments commited to a sustainable community. As for myself, going green is a lot of hard work, but I think it was a good decision in the long run.

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  1. Blogger Don | 10:38 AM, May 16, 2006 |  

    There are quite a few odd contradictions in Asheville to be sure. Mostly it is the retiring and wealthy baby boomers. Despite Air America on one side and Limbaugh on the other, I believe most of America is moderate. I love to hunt and fish, but I believe in conservation and sustainability. I believe in God, but I also believe in evolution. I am repulsed by the "Jesus Christ is our savior" mentality - but I have several close born again friends. I want fuel alternatives, but I like a big truck - granted, I will be switching my Chev 2500 diesel pickup to biofuel, but you see what I mean. Some of us like the green efforts, but we all have our selfish little splurges. I won't condemn people for that or if they don't entirely fit into what I think of as a definition of "green". I think it might be a bit stereotypical to assume all people driving humvees are not environmentally conscious. Perhaps this is their one splurge - meanwhile back at home they are using solar power and recycling and reusing (not to mention they are eating organic).

    Naturally many of them might be just that - hypocrites - but hypocrisy is a reality when dealing with humanity.

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