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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Upside of winter: No yard work

Richard Chan

For all you newcomers out there – and by that I mean recent escapees from places far warmer than Eastern Washington – there’s something you need to know about living with four seasons which you won’t hear about on the news or on the street, and especially not from places that sell things powered by small gasoline engines. And I’m not talking snow blowers or fishing boats.

You may not have thought about it while shoveling that record-setting snowfall this past December. And I’m pretty certain it never entered your mind as you dug your high-centered car out of the berm the good guys in the road department left across the end of your driveway.

So you’re reading it here first, ladies and gentlemen, and here it is: one of the best parts of living in the Northwest is not having to do yard work during the winter.

That’s right; winter means no weed pulling and no lawn mowing.

There are hardy souls here who’ll play golf during the winter – a behavior some might describe as just a teensy bit odd. And you’ll see locals swimming in “the lake” on New Year’s Day – which definitely qualifies as some kind of crazy. But you won’t ever see anyone fire up a weed whacker or lawn mower in January.

I mowed my lawn for the first time this year the last weekend of April, and I can tell you I was mighty happy about it because that means, if I’m lucky, this year I’ll only have to mow for six months. Woo-hoo!

I was in the Terminator State last December, and I can testify that down there in that strangest of lands, there were abundant leaves on the trees, flowers in bloom and lush lawns to be mowed – in December! To do yard work in the dead of winter goes against the very nature of things!

Someone needs to tell these poor, misguided folks the good news about winter. They need to hear about the “six freedoms:” freedom from fertilizer, freedom from mulching, freedom from pruning, and freedom from weeding, wasps and fighting too-short and kinked-up hoses.

Never mind that this winter we ran out of snow shovels; no need to bring up the white-knuckled driving on snow-clogged roads, that roofs were collapsing all around the county from too much of nature’s blessings; that there was a shortage of snow tires and an abundance of black ice.

Yell it from the rooftops, everyone: There will be no yard work for half the year! It makes a record-setting winter practically enjoyable.

I mean, during a really big winter, what can you do? Where are you going to go without having to deal with eyeball-high snow piles?

You almost can’t go anywhere except down the hall to the bathroom. You’re stuck for a prolonged period of time in very close quarters with family. You finally get time to sit quietly together at home and have deep discussions about the real meaning of life – like how to get the kids to hush up and stop whining so you can decide if a red 650cc Honda is better than the equivalent Yamaha or Suzuki.

With snow, nature dishes it out and nature takes it away. Nothing you can do about it; all you can do is push it around and complain about it.

With yard work, you fertilize, water and mow once a week. You mulch, compost or haul it away. And what do you get for all that labor? Dandelions!

There’s nothing in Scripture about mowing lawns, though it does talk about caring for the garden. That doesn’t make a lot of sense when your front steps are under 2 feet of snow, so maybe that’s a metaphor about creation or life in general, or it’s meant for a different dispensation than the present day. I do know that while others celebrate rebirth and renewal each spring, I’ve got a slightly different take.

I’ll be counting the days until the lawn and garden equipment go back into the garage and the snow flies again.

Reach Richard Chan by e-mail at
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