Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

July 18, 2010

Cutting the grass – a universal tradition

Filed under: Ciociaria, Photography, Projects/Series — Doug Stockdale @ 3:54 pm

Fiuggi yard, Italy copyright Douglas Stockdale 2010

Today during my Sunday walk investigating Fiuggi Italy, I had decided to venture to the outskirts of the city, in a region of what I would consider the suburbs, although I do not think that many in Fiuggi might understand that term. In so many ways, they do not understand me and I do not understand them.

Nevertheless, today I think that I did find what seems to be a universal summer task, cutting and mowing the grass of your yard. Of course the qualifier is that you need to have a yard of grass, which is not the case for everyone in Fiuggi. But it is a rite for those in the suburbs, the region of single family homes which have planted grass instead of concrete or stone or rock. American esthetics as its worst, because if you have a grass yard it looks absolutely wonderful just after it has been mowed. And that wonder lasts for about three or four days, because that green stuff just keeps growing and growing shaggy each and every day until you need to mow it once more. Been there, done that.

Okay, another thing about mowing the grass, I find that everyone is a critic. How can something that is so simple create such animated discussions about the right way versus a wrong way? Come on already, you just need to cut the damn grass, eh? Which is why taking this photograph became so amusing and a little bittersweet memory. So I hear the mower as I am walking up the hilly street, guessing someone is mowing a yard just up and around the bend. A potential opportunity to photograph a location with some action. Somehow I am drawn to photographing people mowing the grass, for it is far better them than me.

Now I walk up and around the corner and spy this young kid in a red shirt pushing the mower up and down the yard. Excellent, a nice spot of color so that I can frame this photograph with the kid on the far right edge, creat a little tension, movement and life in this study. But as the kid gets near the house, an older man starts a lively discussion with the kid. The kid stops mowing and the older guy, guessing it is the kid’s old man, walks up to the mower and seems to be telling the kid how to hold the mower and how to push it.

Wow, I do not understand Italian, but this was a flash back to when my Dad did the exact thing because he did not like how I was pushing our mower. So now while I watching, there are some sharp words, the old man takes off pushing the mower with the kid throwing his hands up in the air and stomping off towards the house. OMG! Some things are totally universal! (Yeah, the same thing happened with me, but only when I went inside, I opened a Coke, pulled up a comfy chair and watched my dad finish my job on that hot, humid Michigan afternoon.)

The fun part was now photographing the older guy pushing the mower, as he needed to exert a little more energy to complete the same task that the younger kid was just sailing through. I prefer to photograph the individuals moving away from me, so when the guy was in a nice clear open location in the yard, I squeezed off a couple of frames in quick succession, with the first exposure being the one I prefer. nice.

So I may not understand everything in Fiuggi, but I think I got this tradition right.

Best regards, Douglas

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