Mowed down at home ... it happens

Thursday, May 19, 2016

If there's truly "no place like home," as Dorothy so emotionally postulates in "The Wizard of Oz," then why is it statistics show more than half of all accidents occur in such familiar surroundings?

Fact is, most of my memorable missteps have occurred elsewhere.

Like the foolish leap off the end of the pier at Herrick's Lake near Chicago that ended up with me jamming both feet into mud hidden beneath the shallow lake water. Spraining both ankles was a terrible way to start a summer for a 12-year-old.

Or the infamous X-acto knife incident at Bobby Baur's house down the street when I plunged the blade into my left leg while trying to shave a little extra plastic off some cheap model-car kit item. That wouldn't have been so bad but I passed out looking at the wound and cracked my chin on the bathroom sink.

At home, I did put my right hand through the storm door glass while trying to run out of the house with a basketball, trying to take advantage of a 60-degree January day. That earned me six stitches and a stern lecture.

But most of the time, I've been safe at home.

So maybe my new house is cursed. After all, I've already nearly impaled myself on a not-quite nine-inch nail sticking out of the upper door frame where the staircase to the bedroom meets the living room landing. Left a nice hole in my head, which is OK since it matches the other.

But this latest escapade I never saw coming. Literally.

After all, I was zipping merrily along in the yard on my new Dixie Chopper, riding high after years of experience at the sticks since a seven-year sojourn as communications director at the Fillmore plant.

There has never been a mower accident in my family thankfully, although the one and only time I caved in and let daughter Nicole ride the little Snapper at the old house on Saddle Club Road, she failed to make one full round of the backyard before running into the LP gas tank. Not wanting to ever again envision one of my girls being launched into space from the mower seat, I vowed then and there to keep mowing duties to myself.

But Sunday I found myself in uncharted territory, mowing the back 40 of my new property on Highwood. There's a section behind the garage and adjacent to a little-used alleyway that's not of much value other than to let the dog run around and grow weeds and wild flowers. I don't know one from the other so I'm sure the late former owner wouldn't think too highly of me happily mowing down everything in sight.

That is, until I opted to mow through an opening between an enormous old oak tree and a thorny overgrown bush. As I made my way between them, brushing aside vines and other hanging flora, I didn't realize the large vine in front of me was attached at both ends and was about to make my life miserable.

It caught me at the shins, and before I could react to what was happening, tightened its grip on my lower legs, peeling the skin from shin to knee as I mowed forward and it slid upward. Before I knew it, the vine had popped over the steering levers and into my chest, snaking its way toward my neck.

The lyrics of "Tom Dooley" popped into my head as I envisioned myself "hanging from a white oak tree."

I regained my senses enough to realize I might easily have been thrown off the mower or strangled by the vine in the process.

My legs burned from the vine encounter and I glanced down to see blood streaming down both shins. Stuck like the proverbial pig. Thorns from the adjacent bush were impaled in my knee. I grabbed my cellphone and dialed my No. 1 ICE (in case of emergency number) to see if I could limp over to her house and have her check my knee. Do you know how difficult it is to look directly at your own knee?

Her phone rang right to voicemail, so I improvised and hobbled inside, cleaned up the blood and snapped a selfie of my bruised and bloodied knee.

A little more bad luck and I might have ended up out behind the garage where no one would likely have found me until the leaves were off the trees.

I could just envision the Putnam Scanner report ... Greencastle man victim of murderous mower, villainous vine and wild white oak tree.

It's time to mow again Saturday. Set your phasers on stun and silence your phones. For there's no place like home.