Joanne Palmer: Gentlemen, start your engines |

Joanne Palmer: Gentlemen, start your engines

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

Writer Henry James once said the most beautiful words in the English language were summer afternoon.

Summer afternoon.

Quite possibly these were the two most beautiful words until two other words crept into the English language: lawn mower.

Lawn mower.

Ugh. Just saying the words is a bad experience.

Lawn mowers are ugly, loud, gas-guzzling beasts with manly brand names: Toro, Yard Man, Snapper, Scotsman and my personal favorite, Lawn-Boy. They have torque ratings, auto chokes, gobs of horsepower and even anti-vibration systems.

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There are lawn tractors, zero-turn-radius mowers, mulching mowers and self-propelled mowers – all equally designed to ruin a summer siesta. Because you know and I know that just as you settle down for a snooze someone in the ‘hood will crank up a lawn mower and do their best to blow you right out of the hammock.

Based on absolutely nothing but my own observations while walking the dog, here are the five lawn mower types I’ve identified so far this season. (And, yes, I know there are women who mow, but right now I feel like picking on men).

Type 1: Bazooka Dude

This person has a teeny-tiny patch of grass – usually about 10-by-10 feet, yet he feels the need to attack it with the full force of a bazooka mower. And so he mounts up on the lawn tractor to wage war against a few innocent blades of grass. I could rival Freud with the psychological significance of this guy. Instead, I’m going to sum the situation up with that catchy Texas saying: Big hat, no cattle.

Type 2: Rocker Dude

This guy dons his Grateful Dead T-shirt, cranks up his iPod, guns the lawn mower and gets after it. Occasionally he breaks for a beer and to play air guitar, but sure shootin’ he’s having a great time. He may be wearing a hearing aid next year, but for now he’s singing “Uncle John’s Band” and hoping to reclaim his youth. Let’s just hope he doesn’t try out for American Idol.

Type 3: Nudie Dudie

Ah, the exertion of wheeling his lawn mower out of the garage inspires Nudie Dudie to shed his shirt. Don’t rush to find your binoculars. Nudie Dudie plans to take his time getting in a full upper body workout. Mow. Flex. Mow. Flex. By the time he’s finished strutting his stuff he may have sunburned those lily-white pecs.

Type 4: BMX Dude

He likes the natural look and so his lawn resembles a BMX course full of dirt, rocks and obstacles. Nevertheless, the BMX Dude knows he can triumph over with it with a scythe and his trusty lawn mower. He gears up to mow with goggles, hardhat and a bulletproof vest to protect him from flying branches, rocks, dog droppings and other hazards. Look for a cloud of dirt running behind a self-propelled mower and you’ll know you’ve spotted BMX Dude.

Type 5: Neat Freak Dude

This guy doesn’t want a lawn; he wants a putting green. His grass is so beautiful and so uniform it looks fake with nary a twig or dandelion on it. He has an extra garage bay to store all of his lawn toys: hedge trimmers, weed whackers, blowers, edgers and snippers. He mows with the precision of a marching band strutting on the diagonal one week and then mowing in circles like a Zamboni the next week. Don’t be surprised if you find the Neat Freak trimming his lawn with nail clippers.

Fortunately, the grass stops growing by the 4th of July in Steamboat Springs, so wait to take your afternoon naps in late July.

As for me, I’m thinking about Xeriscaping.