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Monday / February 26.
HomemitwocentsSpringing into Combat

Springing into Combat

In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. For Geoff Lawson, however, it is the time to consider taming the backyard.

September is the month when those of us Down Under start thinking about breaking out the warm weather clobber (north of Albury, at least). Spring officially starts when the calendar page gets turned over – at least that’s what I always reckoned when I was growing up in Wagga Wagga (even though the chance of a frost was still as strong a chance as an Australian batting revival).

The spring equinox is measured on 21 September when the planet is halfway inclined to the ecliptic and the sun’s power starts to turn up from medium to high, so 1 September is only the nominal start of the regeneration period – a calendar milestone rather than powerful radiation – although, as we all know,
once we pass the shortest day of the year on 21 June, the only way is sunnier from thence. The cicadas are tuning up and the cricket gear and the board shorts are dusted off in September. The warmer air brings with it growth and renewal, all of which sounds delightful until you look out the backyard at the burgeoning grass and the flowering weeds.

The lawn mower, sitting neglected, stiff and dusty through winter finds itself refuelled, oiled and put through a stretching routine (along with the operator, just before he/she wrenches their arm out of the socket). Next to the petrol can in the garden shed (a loose term that is more aptly translated as “decaying aluminium lean-to”), hanging from the homemade two-inch nail hook, is the most vital of accessories – the safety glasses!

Many lawn mowees and mowettes may fail to see the fashion mojo in this accessory; you cannot get them in Gucci or Pierre Cardin

One must slip, slop, slap and wrap; then pull on the jeans or the long socks at least before entering the combat zone of milk weed, foot-high kikuyu, tumbled eucalypt twigs and abandoned pedal toys (yes, the 22-year-old still leaves these out in the rain), but the eye protection trumps all other coverings.

My local hardware store (insert name of huge chain store here) provides a polycarbonate all clear design that I reckon is great value for less than 10 bucks, especially as the Australian Standards code, stamped almost invisibly, lets me know that Steve Dain’s assiduous work has not gone unrecognised.

Many lawn mowees and mowettes may fail to see the fashion mojo in this accessory; you cannot get them in Gucci or Pierre Cardin. But they wrap around and seal off the orbit from ballistic nasties. They will even go over your existing prescription or sunnies.

Now I am prepared for the task, protected from head to toes….ooops, forgot the shoes. My wife has just reminded me of the story (apocryphal I assume, invented perhaps as the optical equivalent of a scary bedtime story) of the guy who thought it was OK to mow the lawn in his thongs, despite the better half giving alternative advice. The hapless protagonist of our dubious yarn proceeded to cut his toe off with the mower, which was all very unfortunate. A worse fate rapidly followed, however, as his severed toe shot straight up and knocked his eye out! That’s what can happen if you don’t wear eye protection.

Thus garbed, I venture out into the backyard wilderness, but not before I gaffer tape some specs onto my plastic ice cream container with eyes painted on the rear (necessary to ward off that other sure sign of spring upon us – marauding magpies), don the brickies gloves, and flick on the facemask. Seriously, The Ghan probably takes less time to get underway!

Gosh, how I love spring!