30 Days of Experiencing Nature: This is How You Mow a Hill

Ever wonder how parks maintain their pristine lawns and trails? The staff has lots of tools and equipment for mowing vast lawns, trimming hedges, and keeping the grounds nice and neat. Even their steep hills.

I didn’t feel I accomplished a whole lot today. But I did learn how much fun it is to mow a hill. It’s sure to be a valuable life skill, knowing how to work a hover mower. At the very least, it’s a reason never to skip arms at the gym.

My shoulder has been acting wonky at random times, lately. If I try to stretch it out and do CrossFit lifts such as Push Press, or Snatch, it hurts like hell. Swimming gives me ZERO problems. After my swim I can’t move my arms. Taking off my shirt or bra is literally the most difficult thing I do all day. Using the row machine, no problem. Reach for the honey from the top shelf of the pantry and I want to schedule a cortisone shot immediately.

My shoulder is okay with me doing some things, but not others. And if it’s not happy about my movements, it’s REALLY not happy. So I was a little apprehensive about mowing the hill today, because I knew it was arm intensive and I wasn’t sure how my shoulder would react.

I’ve done tons of weird work over the years with strange equipment. When I worked at Wild Arctic, we used a pool scrubber to clean back holding pools. It was a spinning brush attached to hoses and with the water pushing out and spinning the brush, you could climb up the walls of the holding pool, which some were about 20 feet deep. So I would suit up in my scuba gear, get the pool scrubber going and play Spiderman in the pools while cleaning.

Pool scrubbing was deeply satisfying, too. In Florida, the sun could grow quite a bit of algae within one or two weeks, so the pool would look a little shabby if we didn’t scrub it at least every other week. When we scrubbed the beluga holding area, which had white walls, you could see exactly how far you got and the difference between the finished wall and the non-finished wall.

I used to also pressure wash while scuba diving with dolphins. The dolphins, particularly the females, like to use the pressure washer hoses as their personal vibrator, which always made pressure washing the coral so much fun, having to compete with horny dolphins.

But pressure washing was a specialty of mine because I liked using the smaller wand and getting into the nooks and crannies and really detailing the coral reef to make it beautiful and colorful. I would hang upside down from the coral, pressure washer gun in hand and clean the coral until it practically sparkled. I did my best to ignore the sexual interactions of the dolphins.

Today reminded me of my experiences with strange and unusual equipment. To mow the steep hills at Fort Casey, we use what is called a “fly mower”. It doesn’t have any wheels, but instead kinda hovers over the grass. Staff attached long ropes to the mowers and you simply stand at the top of a hill, lower the mower down to the bottom, letting the rope slide through your gloves, and once the mower is at the bottom of the hill, you pull it up by the rope.

It took some time and patience to keep a straight line with the mower. I don’t think I got proficient enough for me to say I’m “good” at mowing the hill, but I definitely enjoyed it. I also enjoyed giving the visitors to the park a little show as they entered the gates. Several cars stopped and watched us as we lowered the mowers and pulled them back up. Considering there were some fighter pilots practicing in the air while we mowed, I take that as a compliment. We were more entertaining to watch than fighter planes growling through the air.

We didn’t completely finish the hill. My partner had to go home for the day, and I had to finish my regular routine, cleaning restrooms for the most part. I don’t know if we’ll finish it tomorrow or go to another fun project, such as cleaning up the South Whidbey park for a wedding this weekend.

Surprisingly, my shoulder still feels fine. We’ll see how sore my arms are tomorrow morning. At least I can give a reason to my CrossFit class not to skimp out on arm exercises. You never know when you’ll need real arm strength. For mowing a freaking hill.

The things I do for work…

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