Friday, Apr. 29, 2005, 1:19 AM

Blade to blade, a tale of heroism in the shadow of suburban America

Synopsis - I bought a manual reel push mower and I am very happy with its performance. To relive the epic adventure of my first battle, please continue, but be assured that the previous sentence neatly sums up the entire account, and that those with weak hearts or stomachs for such violence need not continue.

So now that I am a homeowner I am faced with a myriad of challenges. Rather than enumerating all of them I will cite only one - the lawn. Every blade of grass is against me. This is no idle enemy, oh no. In the daylight and nighttime hours their ranks are ever increasing in size and number. They are not discriminatory in their recruiting policy either, having admitted violets, crabgrass, dandelions, clover and little miniature daisies.

And they are cunning; going so far as to mount a flanking maneuver from both the front and back! What's worse is that they are attacking me on multiple levels, the front being on an even keel with the first floor, and the back being some twenty feet vertically lower than the basement.

I have been keeping tabs with furtive glances between the drawn curtains, silently sipping tea in the living room, in the early morning hours when the blades are too distracted by dew to notice. My situation was growing precarious at an alarming rate and it was not long before I realized that I would be forced to go on the offensive lest I languish in a sea of growth. I had terrifying visions of hacking my way with a machete to the driveway in the coming months in the hope that the weeds had not chocked the exhaust of my car into submission, and it was in that moment that my resolve was set. I waited until one weekend morning when the grass was basking in the early rays of the sun and I furtively slunk out of the basement door, crept across the asphalt driveway to my truck and tore from the driveway before the front lawn had a chance to grow over my escape route to the street.

I made my way to the Home Depot, where they stock many fine instruments of battle. Implements of construction and destruction lined the walls so far into the distance that my echo could scarcely find its way back to me. A veritable cornucopia of tools designed to restrain and contain the floods of water and coursing electricity that pulses through a home greeted my every glance. And everywhere walked a strategist in an orange apron to direct me in battle, to help arm me for my fight, to ensure that my ammunition met or exceeded any task that I might encounter, and to relay to me gruesome statistics regarding the success each instrument had found in countless other confrontations. I had found the suburban outfitter's armory.

In those mornings while I stood in the living room sipping my tea I had carefully considered my position to determine what I needed most if I was to mount an effective counterstrike. The topography to the rear required precision, maneuverability and an economy of bulk and weight. The current restriction on fuel and the maintenance of my weaponry were carefully considered. The power sources were weighed to determine whether or not I wished to be directly tethered to the source, require a supply of combustible fuel, or if a mobile organic system would meet my needs.

In the end, I decided that a lightweight, manpowered rotary style mower would efficiently cut through their ranks, and would travel light enough and with so little bulk that the descent into the rear guard would be easily navigated via the stairs from the observation deck. And thus was my war begun.

As afternoon approached I unpacked my weapon, inspected it for quality of craftsmanship, and assembled all of the parts in the proper formation to launch an offensive. The battlefield was growing warm as the sun slid from her apex and slowly began her descent to mingle with the Western hills. The first wave would be launched against the main forces gathered in the front. I gripped the handle and pushed into their ranks, cutting through any resistance, mowing their verdant soldiers down with an ease that I had not expected. I pushed on easily across the rough terrain, and when I had reached the end of the first line I turned and dove back in for more.

The onslaught continued until the only opposition remained as small isolated sects cowering in remote parts of the land not easily accessible. The front had fallen so swiftly that no message was relayed to the rear guard of the horror that would soon befall them. And it did, silently descending the steps from the observation deck where enemy was divided in two by a thrust through the center of the force. Without that continuity the two halves fell beneath my blade before the sun had traversed but a scant distance toward the horizon.

Truly some ancient methods are as effective as new ones, and in the right arena can prove to be superior. It was a good purchase. I'm sure that I will ride into glorious battle again, probably sooner than I would like, but I am assured of victory so long as my enemy doesn't learn the secret of rocks as obstructions.

And in the meantime I have traded my hot tea for an iced tea as I survey the battlefield littered with my fallen foes.