Following the long winter break, mowing the first grass of the year is always special. This year it was for a demonstration at the Greenwood Worker’s ‘Bodger’s Ball’.
I always feel a little bit nervous after being away from mowing for so long. I’ve been watching the spring arrive, grass growing and the fields getting lush building anticipation for this moment. My blade is peened and honed, now check I have everything; spanner and allen key, whetstone and sheath, don’t forget the wedge then go through the process of setting up the blade for lay and hafting angles. I’ve got some butterflies and fumbling fingers as I walk over to the meadow.
Its National Trust land, a meadow at the Brockhampton Estate and the section I’ve been given is sloping with fruit trees. I can see that it’s not as well managed as the rest of the field, too difficult access for tractors but perfect for the scythe and I like to be able to show how this is a tool that can work where machines have problems. The vegetation looks lush, buttercups in some areas then longer grass with some clumps and I wonder how matted it will be at the base but it’s standing up despite the heavy showers we’ve had so that will make things easier.
Enough delay, it’s time to take the first cuts. I’m careful and slow, tentative strokes to feel the blade in the grass and remind my body of the movements and how everything feels. Can I still do this; have I forgotten over the winter, will it be how I’ve remembered it from last year? The doubts fade away the blade sweeps through its arc, my body remembers and with each cut my confidence builds and I relax into it more. Soon it’s like I was never away, I’m moving in a steady comfortable rhythm, breathing easily and enjoying the pleasure of the work.
Steadily folk arrive to watch and ask questions, a few trying themselves after being surprised by how effective and fun it looks. Gradually they move on to see other demonstrations and it’s just me mowing with Simon and Andy who have their own scythes and we work on as a team finishing up our allotted patch before stopping to chat about scythes, mowing and the coming season. It’s almost over too soon, I could have happily continued but breakfast is calling and I know there’ll be plenty more grass over the summer.