Brother of the Rally Mantis

August 29 – After some of the recent rains, Dale decided to go out to the barn to get the mower ready, since when the grass dries off, we wanted to work on clearing off the big weeds that have grown up since I last mowed under the barbed wires. This time it will be the fence that separates our land from the Duncans. Way back a number of years ago, when I couldn’t squeeze the lawn mower under the bottom wire, I asked those folks if it would be OK to cut out that wire. Amazingly they said that would be fine, so Dale cut it out at each fence post, 35 altogether, and now we can mow more easily. However, since I haven’t mowed there at all this year, some of the giant ragweeds, wild roses, honey locust trees, poison ivy, and shrubs are really strong and healthy and tall!


[ Mowers drink gas ]

Our original plan was for Dale to cut them out before I mowed on behind him until the job was done. I’d be glad to see a neat fence for a change! However, everything didn’t go quite as well as we had planned. I have never before mowed with as little success as I did that day! Dale took the clippers and moved on down the row, cutting out the heavy and thick-stemmed items. Behind him I pushed and pushed, sometimes with all of my effort possible, trying to mow down the horrible thick weeds. At first, I took my time and mowed off all that I could reach under the fence. However, as I continued and began to feel more and more tired, I was more disgusted than I had ever been with regard to mowing. Always I had to be careful that the pull rope didn’t get cut off as it slipped under the fence.

Finally, I tried a different plan. Mowing as close to the barbed wire as I could, without going under the fence, I went from one stake to the next three. From there, I went back to the place where the weeds under the wire hadn’t been mowed down. Pushing as hard as I could in most places, it took me a long time to do the mowing, as the mower just wouldn’t cooperate in cutting down the weeds under the fence. Finally, although I hated to admit it (and still do), I just couldn’t finish the job.


[ Dale mowing ]

Walking to the place where Dale was continuing to clip off the tall weeds, moving on a LOT faster than I was doing, I had to tell him I just wasn’t up to doing the job. He immediately said, “Let me do it! Your arms just aren’t long enough to reach back in far enough. Here are the clippers. You can do that part of the job!” I tried and tried to get him to change his mind because with his RAA, these outside jobs aren’t as easy to take on as they used to be. But no more discussion. He went back to the mower, and I continued on down the row using the clippers.

A little later, I could see Dale motioning to me and then saying, “Get the camera. I have something you’ll be interested in.” Hurrying ahead to the shade where I had put the camera for protection from the sun, I was soon ready to see Dale’s treasure. A real treasure it was, too, especially for its large size. There in his hand was a praying mantis, looking out from between Dale’s fingers as he held the insect’s body in his hand. It was not green as I have seen most of them, but a kind of two-tone brown.


[ Brother of the Rally Mantis ]

First, the mantis jumped out of Dale’s hands and onto the mowed trail. When he picked it up the second time, it jumped right onto his arm, made its way all the way to his shoulder, then walked bravely onto the top of his cap! When he asked if I wanted a picture, I said no, but then changed my mind. So where did he put the insect? Right in the center of my bright yellow cap! Several pics later when we looked for the mantis, we couldn’t find it. It had made a quick escape.

An hour later, I had pruned the last of the various kinds of weeds, unwound the vines that had twined around a fence post or two, and cut off about seven healthy-looking rose bushes. Not only did Dale finish the job under the fence, but he continued on past the fence, and mowed an area that I can’t reach with the riding mower. Since I had nothing else to do in that area, I picked up my heavy gloves, my just-about empty water bottle, the gas can, and both clippers and carried them up to the barn.

After Dale had finished his job, he was pushing the lawn mower up towards the barn when our neighbor across the way stopped to visit a bit before she drove into town. She really enjoys our small sun-gold tomatoes and keeps a big dish handy at home where she can pick up one of these goodies from time to time. She also brought us a nice blue plastic bucket she had bought for us the other day. She always has good stories to tell and never seems to forget anything! Sure is nice to have friendly and helpful neighbors! – CHRIS

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