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Even as Autumn is upon us, my front yard looks great. Its grass is plush and full, rivaling any professionally cultivated yard in town. My backyard, not so much. There aren’t any bare spots, but the grass grows thick and full in a limited number of island-like spots. Everything else remains thin.

I think it may have something to do with the deer that pass through fairly regularly. Over the years, as I’ve mowed, I’ve learned that there are certain locales I should tread with care because that’s where they do their business.

Speaking of mowing, I should set up a video camera and share the experience with you.


You know how most folks will mow in straight lines, gradually making their way across the yard until it’s finished? Yeah, that’s not what you’d see in my video, at least not in the backyard. I pretty much just wander around, going from patch to patch until I get them all. I figure it’s a waste of time and gasoline to mow a yard that doesn’t necessarily need it, and yet, if I don’t regularly mow those portions that get fuller than the others, it starts to look pretty crazy.

That second or third time I decided to do it this way, I noticed my southern-most neighbor peeking through the blinds of his door wall, and I imagined the conversation he was having with his wife at that moment.

“Honey, come take a look at this.”

“What is it?” she asks.

“I think Thoma only mows his yard when he’s drunk,” he replies.

“His poor wife,” she says, gently nudging aside one of the blinds to observe.

I suppose the next I see them spying, I’ll just go ahead and wave. And the next time I have a chance to talk with them, I already know what I intend to say.

“Hey, John!” I’ll say, waving excitedly.

“Hey, Chris,” he’ll reply uneasily from the mouth of his garage.

“So, did you see those bright lights in the sky last night?” I’ll ask in all seriousness.

“Bright lights?”

“Yeah, the lights. I sure hope they didn’t wake you and the dogs.”

“I didn’t see them,” he’ll continue puzzled. “What was going on?”

“Oh, nothing,” I’ll continue. “Just a couple of alien spacecraft hovering over my yard.”

“Alien spacecra—?”

“Yeah,” I’ll interrupt. “I’ve been doing the ‘crop circle’ thing in the back yard—you know, to help coordinate the invasion. They promised they wouldn’t eat me or my family after the war. Not really sure what they have planned for you and everyone else. They did say that I could be governor of the east coast territories. Let’s hope you’re left in my jurisdiction, right? Anyway, I think with my latest attempt at the language, I may have misspelled something. They stopped in last night to help with the conjugation.”

“Yeah, okay,” he’ll say and take a step back.

I have to admit that when I’m done mowing this way, I get a kick out of going into my upstairs bedroom which overlooks the backyard in order to better view my handiwork. The results are always rather spectacular.

The best part is that what used to take me about an hour, only takes thirty minutes.

The second best part is that the neighbors think I’m crazy, which is okay by me. It makes the solitude of my home all that more enjoyable. After a typical, and very long day, when I get home, I don’t need to be fearful that anyone from the neighborhood is going to stop in for a visit when they see the Millennium Falcon… I mean, the minivan… pull into the driveway. Although, I suppose if the “alien invasion” idea gets around and people start believing that I’m actually in line for a prominent position in the new world order, I may get more visitors than ever before, all putting their hopes in my benevolence.

I should probably rethink that strategy for explaining my strangely-mowed backyard.

I suppose I could go back to the intoxication idea, except I would qualify the booze part by saying that I’m not actually drunk, but rather performing a pre-mowing ritual that involves taking a sip of the 15-year-old Bowmore Darkest Sherry Cask Finished edition that results in a form of stunned ecstasy, ultimately causing me to wander around the yard.

I really like this whisky. The smoke, the sherry, the bite—it’s all good.

The nose is masterful, almost otherworldly, at least in the sense that the sweeter sherry and the smoky character take equal turns steering the craft. What I mean is that both are so crisp that it’s not difficult to concentrate on either. The smoke sets the scene beside a salty inlet from the ocean. The sherry is just beyond the mouth of the waterway, and as the smoke dissipates, the sherry takes over.

There is an oily nature to the palate. In it there is the suggestion of smoked berries, frosted pastry dough, and a wood spice bite. A second sip sees the smoke prevail.

The finish is absolutely delightful, rendering a semi-longer fade into something spicier, almost rum-like.

In all, this is a delightful dram, and it’s certainly worth your dollars—coming in right around $70. Actually, it might even be worth ritualizing, as I posited even if only for the sake of excuse, in order to explain away whatever strange behaviors you perform before observing neighbors.

“So, Bill,” your neighbor might say reservedly, “I couldn’t help but notice yesterday when you were doing yard work that you dug up some of the flowers from my flowerbed and planted them in yours.”

“I did?” you’ll pretend.

“Um, yes Bill, you did.”

“Oh, gosh, Tom. I’m truly sorry,” you’ll say in return. “Well, there’s no reason to dig ’em up again. That could kill ’em. And I should probably tell you about my pre-yardwork ritual, just in case I ever do that again.”