My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A summer Saturday...

The morning opened up with the sun creeping over the horizon.  Cafe curtains filtered the sunbeams streaming into the window.  I kicked the covers high and wide tumbling over the side of the bed.  A new day.  Another summer offering new adventures without the weight of school work dragging me down was dawning.
 A quick brush of the teeth, a splash of water on the eyes---my mother always said, "Hold a cold washcloth on the back of your neck for an eye opener." which I never did---and a long standing bladder tension eased off.  And, thus, began the day.
  "What do you want for breakfast?"  My mother had been up for hours.  She was always a morning person and greeted dad and me with a smile.  Dad answered with a grunt and, as the apple falling near the tree, my response was likewise..
"Ung.  Cereal I guess."  It was too early to think about food.
"Do you have plans for your first day of summer?"  My mother always liked to talk in the morning.  My dad sat at the table slowly burying himself in the paper while lifting his cup of tea to his lips.  
The old metal teapot had come from England with us when we came over in 1950.  It was one of the few things from England's shores to make the trip.  It sat in the middle of the table close at hand.  The capacity was approximately 6 cups which were poured out over a time frame of about forty-five minutes.  A splash of milk in the cup and the tea poured into it was the ritual.  Dad always made sure the ritual included pot to the kettle and kettle to the pot.  Boiling water was poured into the pot to rinse and to heat it.  The next act was to add the teabags and carry the kettle from the heat to the pot and pour it directly over the waiting bags of tea.  Since the pot had been heated prior to the adding of tea bags all that precious boiling heat was directed at the tiny little tea leaves in the bags Tetley provided.  The flavor of the tea was instantly siphoned off the leaves.  The whistle of the kettle on the burner was the opening sound of that daily ritual.  Dad would smile ever so slightly when he had sipped this proper cuppa.
"I thought maybe you would cut the grass this morning," said dad.  It was an unusual statement by my dad because he never let me cut grass.   His specifications were stringent and I was too young to meet them.  The house we lived in prior to this one had a yard that was less than level.  He always mowed because it was too hilly and I wouldn't be able to properly achieve the level he desired or some such excuse.  The reason was that he wanted to do the work so that it was his accomplishment.  So I was surprised at his statement.
"OK.  Yes sir."  I wanted to cut the grass but I knew that the day was shot now.  I held back my disappointment about my plans which were nothing much other than walk around the Terrace with my friends.
My dad had the oldest lawn mower on the block.  When the day came to mow it always began like this.  The decision was made.  After tea and toast he would rise from the table and head for the door.  Outside he'd point me to the small covering he had built for the power mower.  I'd unlatch the gate and tug on the mower, which was wedged into the covering, until I finally had it dragged from its place.  Huffing and puffing I would roll it up to dad under the carport.  His smile always told me he enjoyed the spectacle of my efforts to bring the machine to him.
First, he would place the knotted rope in the crevice of the fly wheel.  Then he would wind it around it then take the wooden piece in his hand and yank the cord which turned the flywheel to crank it.  It would sputter without spark and he would commence checking everything.  The gas tank was first on the list. It was always empty.
"Get the gas, son."
I would get the gas can.  He would pour gas into the tank.  The oil check was next.  If it was fine he would recheck the fuel line, adjust the lever to release gas to the spark plug and rewrap the cord.  His foot on the mower would hold it to the ground as he yanked on the cord sending the blade flying beneath the outer covering.  The sputter would sound again.  This would set him off on the double check of everything.  He would wind the rope around the topknot again, steady the mower with his foot and yank on the rope with the same sputter.
"Not getting a spark.  Go get my tool box, son."
"Yes sir," I'd say and head to the shed for the tools.  Lifting that box full of metal tools was a job in itself.  I'd be leaning at a forty-five degree angle on my way back just to keep it from scraping the ground.  Reaching him was a relief punctuated by a slam of the box and a rattle of metal tools that would be heard inside.
"Are you two alright?"  My mother would say, standing at the screen door wiping her hands on the dish towel.
"Yeah, we're fine," would be my dad's answer.
He stooped over the box and released the two locks throwing the top over on its hinges.  He'd reach with knowing hands for the right tool and fit it to the spark plug.  The plug in his hands he would say, "Hand me that emery board, son."  After doing this so many times I would search the box for the one he had used last.
"It's not here."
"Go ask your mother for one."  I'd get up and run inside.
"Dad needs an emery board, mom."
"Alright dear."  She'd toss the dish towel on the stove and go through all the drawers until she found one.
"Here you go.  Ask you dad if he wants a cuppa tea."
"Yes ma'am."  The screen door would slam behind me every time.
"Don't slam the door, son.  Did your mother have that emery board?"  He was filing away at the carbon deposit on the plug with the one he had found in the tool box.
"Yes sir.  Here it is."
"Thanks, this one has lost all its grit.  Hand me that metal brush."
I handed it to him.
He scraped the brush back and forth across the firing portion of the plug until it shone as bright and clean as new.
"There we are," he'd say.  He threaded the plug into its position by hand.  "Hand me the spanner."
By habit I reached for his tool and handed it over.
"Mom wants to know if you'd like a cup of tea."  I finally asked.
"That would be nice," he said.  I ran back inside to tell my mother.  She put the kettle on.
After reattaching the wire to the plug he went through all the preparation to start it again.  The sputter came and he repeated the action several more times.
"Hmmmm," he'd say.  "Spanner?"
I grabbed it and handed it over.
He began losing nuts and removing parts.  "Go look in the outhouse and find that pot."
I ran around to the shed and dug through the pile of stuff to find the pot at the bottom.  Triumphantly, I would return smiling.
"Pour some of that gas into it."
I struggled with the gas can and slopped gas all over pouring it into the pot.  Dad tossed the piston and assorted bits into the pot.
"Let's go have our tea.  Those bits can soak while we are inside."
The kettle was whistling as we stepped inside.  Mom made the tea.  We sat at table.  She brought the pot over then pulled the milk from the refrigerator and set it next to the pot.  We waited while it sat on the draw.  Dad bit into his toast which had been sitting there while we were outside.
"How come we don't get a new mower, dad?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you have to work on this one every time you want to cut the grass."
"As long as this one can be fixed son it is still good.  I can't see buying another one when this one is as good as new."
"It always seems to take two days to cut the grass.  The first day you spend fixing the thing so it will cut the next day. "
"I'm just thankful I have a lawn mower that works.  It might take some time to get it working but there's no need to buy new as long as it does."
The rest of the day was spent cleaning, sanding, wiping and reassembling.  When he finally got it to run it was near dark.  He would look up surprised that the day was nearly gone.
"First thing in the morning we'll crank her up and you can cut the grass."  He said this as he put it beneath its covering.
As always the morning would come and he would crank it on the first try.  The pride of workmanship shown in his face and he would wave me off pushing the mower into the grass.  I'd sit and watch as he completed the job with a smile on his face.  With sweat trickling into his eyes he would push the mower into the home made shed and lock it.
“Thanks for your help, son.  How about a cup of tea?”
“Yes sir,” I said holding the door for him.

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