The Yard Work Handshake

This morning, the family went outside to do some yard work. I spent most of the time mowing the lawn while my parents pulled weeds from the front flower bed and swept out the garage. I suspect one motivation of this was to be outside long enough to meet our new next-door neighbors.

These covert acts happen all the time. Someone moves in; you see a car in the driveway now, lights on at night, and the yard got magically cut so you know someone's there now. You've just yet to have a chance to see who these folks are. Are they kind looking? Educated? What's their occupation? Are they the same race as you? The race thing you ask out of curiosity, not some sort of racism. But you spend time trying to surmise all you can from the car model you see but eventually, these folks have to walk outside.

But what I find to be really telling is the yard work discourse. You know that discourse. You're out mowing the yard, and you need to stop for a second to move some trash that blew in or to refuel or one of the other myriad reasons to shut off the engine. You look up, make contact with your neighbor, and you hear that same joke, the gardener's handshake: "When you're done there, this one over here is next!" The variance on that phrase rarely changes much.

Then comes your moment. It's the moment in which you have to prove what kind of neighbor you are. Pray to God you're found to be witty.

Today, my parents were talking with them and as I was returning to the front yard and shut off the engine, then came that famous phrase. I knew this moment was coming when I saw they were talking in the first place. I knew as I returned to the front yard that I needed to make a response. I had time to prepare, which is probably best because some people don't have this opportunity. Oh, yes, I can actually hammer out the road map to this first impression while I navigate the weeds and crab grass.

"Your parents say there's one more over here!"
"You're going to have to work real hard to get me to do that."

Ice broken.

Mowing the yard is the new Frost's "Mending Wall."

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