Neat and Tidy in Oysterville

Sep 18, 2010 | 2 comments

Rainy Day Mowing

   For as long as I can remember, it has been traditional to mow the meadows in Oysterville toward the end of summer – unless of course your meadow was inhabited by a horse or two and mowing was unnecessary.  “The meadows” include the large open areas to the east of Territory Road.  Most are privately owned and are located between the bay and the homes along the main stretch of road.
     There are a few property owners who choose not to have their meadows mowed – ‘newcomers’ or ‘part-timers’ who don’t realize the practicalities inherent in mowing.  Gorse and blackberry starts have a hard time flourishing under the annual cutting back and the other tall-growing plants are kept down leaving the view intact and minimizing danger of fire.
     In the very early days of Oysterville before mechanization, cutting grass was done by scythe or sickle and was a labor-intensive operation.  I can still remember seeing my grandfather using the scythe, his rhythmic dance-like motions making large swaths through the tall grass.  It wasn’t that there weren’t mowers by then; it was just what he was used to doing.
     Uncle Cecil, my grandfather’s brother, was a banker in Portland.  He moved back to Oysterville when he was in his seventies or eighties.  I remember the hubbub when he decided to burn the meadow in front of his house.  Apparently, that’s what was done when he was a boy in the 1890s and he saw no reason to do it differently.
     The fire department was called and the pumpers came with sirens screaming all the way from Ocean Park.  “Might as well let it burn itself out,” said the firemen.   The neighbors gathered and everyone (including the firemen) watched as the meadow burned.  Everyone, that is, except Uncle Cecil who went back into the house in disgust.
     There is a continuing discussion in the village about the optimum time for mowing.  Most folks feel that the end of summer is best, after the nesting birds have raised their young and are safely gone from their secluded homes in the tall grass.  There are others who feel that the bay view is better throughout the summer if the mowing is done earlier.  They also point out that it would be good to mow before everything has had a chance to go to seed.  So far, concern for the birds has prevailed. 

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I vote for the birds, too, but I’m a big fan of birds. They keep the bugs down and are an important part of the ecosystem. Isn’t the fire department always looking for stuff to burn for practice? They burn fields other places. That would probably kill some insects, too. Uncle Cecil may have had it right.

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  2. Jim Courtnier

    Hooray for changing times. Your Uncle Cecil probably didn’t understand the phase-out of wigwam burners in the lumber mills either.

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