Sunday 20 March 2016

First Cut

The first day of spring (the second first day this year), and a landmark of the gardening year - my first mow of the lawn. I always enjoy cutting the grass - the effect is so transformative, the effort so slight - and the first cut of the year is always special. The grass was pretty long in places, but the ground was a dry as could be expected at this time of year so the mowing was quite easy. The only irksome aspect of the whole thing was, as ever, the tendency of my cheapo Mow 'n' Vac (yes, honestly, that's what it's called) to shed its cuttings box or one of the flimsy bits of plastic that count as blades.Then there's the unpleasing noise of the thing, and the need to keep the trailing electric lead out of the way. In fact I have half decided to dispense with power mowing altogether this year and buy a good hand mower. I only have a fairly small lawn, it would be good work for the upper body - and how wonderful to restore the nostalgic sound of a hand-pushed mower to the neighbourhood soundscape. I'm going to have a look online and see what I can find...
 Mowing the lawn always puts Larkin's Cut Grass into my mind (even at this time of year). Today I was pleased to find that I still have it by heart. Short as it is, it's about the best my sieve-like memory can manage these days. I promise this will be the last Larkin poem for a while. Maybe.

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

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