It is that time of year when our lawns are covered with blankets of brown and gold. It is also a time in my life when I am no longer able to rake up that blanket, pile the accumulation of my toil into piles that I would then drag away to a compost area at one remote border of our property. It was good, hard work. It was also the spirit of fall, which I loved; and I got brownie points with my wife. She prized compost like gold for use in our garden.

That was yesteryear. I had the energy—and mobility—of Popeye with his can of spinach. As I write, I am now tottering into my 95th year. I am still on my feet with a cane, but so unstable that I watch every step that I take. My balance is shot, my vision is failing and all my other faculties are going west (so, what else is new when we have reached these years).

What is new is that I can still handle the leaves in a far more productive way than I used to when I was full of beans. I discovered that I could happily mulch the great blanket back into the expanse of lawn and, at the same time, indulge in a much required therapy: walking. I acquired a Honda power mower with a throttle. With both hands on the crossbar handle, the mower steadied me like a walker. The throttle was convenient to my right thumb. I soon adapted to a speed I could comfortably walk.

My first try was cheered by the warped humor of my insensitive family. They had gathered on the porch to watch this great achievement. I pressed the thumb throttle. My new mower sprang forward, like Seabiscuit at the starting gate. I hung on and was dragged—flat on my face—behind it on the ground for a horrified second before I had the wit to release the throttle. I was unhurt, but humiliated. Later, I must admit, I wished they had caught the drama with a home video. Before my audience could express their alarm, I had let go the handle and my “galloping horse” shut off by itself. I brushed myself off, regained some presence of mind, and—very carefully—adjusted the sensitive throttle to a comfortable walking pace.

I mentioned that among my physical failings, my vision had seriously diminished. I lost the use of one eye and, with that, lost all depth of field. When I first tried mowing the grass, the shadows from the trees made it almost impossible for me to clearly see each new course as I directed my mower back and forth for a clean mowing.

My son, Gordy, is the one who appraised me of the ability I now have to cleanly mow the leaves with the coming of fall, and mulch them back into the lawn. I wait until the lawns are well-covered with the leaves, leaving behind a visually clear path for my navigating back-and-forth. The leaves are so finely fragmented by the whirling blades that the particles are readily absorbed back into the ground.

Walking is an important part of a therapy regiment that helps old geezers like me maintain some healthy degree of muscle in the legs and heart. At the same time, if walking could also be productive, it psychologically made me feel easier about being retired and physically diminished.

When we moved to Lawrenceville many years ago, we acquired a wonderful property with three very old oaks. We encouraged other young trees (yellow poplar, cherry, ash, dogwood and one flourishing chestnut). They all contribute to the fall quilt. Thanks to the mowing/mulching, my wife, Susy—a conservation enthusiast—calls it “Giving something back to Mother Nature.”

Advice: just go easy with your thumb on that throttle.

— Stan Waterman

Made in the shade: Eagle Scout gives back to LIS

The PTO is always working towards way to improve and enhance the offerings that our school provides to students.

The Lawrence Intermediate School community is excited and honored that LIS alumni Matthew McChesney chose as his Eagle Scout Project to build a shade sail in the school’s outdoor learning area. The area is used by students to explore the outdoors and learn about many things in their science curriculum. Thanks to the shade sail, they will be able to do this more comfortably. The outdoor learning area is near our school’s garden.

Congratulations and thank you Matt (and his helpers) on a job well done. The students and staff will enjoy this space for many years to come!

— Kim Lehrfeld
Lehrfeld is the LIS PTO president.