Mowing in Central Florida is usually done as early in the morning as possible. The goal is to get the whole yard done before the temperature hits 90 degrees. On the other hand, if you’re not mowing your lawn, you really don’t want to wake up to the sound of your neighbor’s lawn mower.
How early is too early? Well, in our neighborhood, the general unspoken consensus is 8:30 am. All around the block, lawn mowers growl to life every Saturday at 8:30 am.
Last Saturday, it was my turn. My wife was busy with church stuff, so I bustled the kids outside and cranked up the mower. While I raced the mower back and forth across the grass, they ran around the front yard in their pajamas, shooting baskets and playing with their scooters.
All in all, a pretty typical Saturday morning.
Then I flushed out a snake. Snakes aren’t that big of a surprise in Florida – but it did mean that the kids had to put their shoes on. I turned off the mower and sent them inside to get dressed, explaining that they could come back outside as soon as they had shoes on their feet.
A few minutes later, I went into check on them.
My youngest was standing in the kitchen, stark naked and screaming his lungs out. The back door was open, and his big brother was nowhere to be seen. Neither were the dogs.
“He,” the little guy said, gulping in a breath. “He went out without shoes on! He’s going to get bitten. He’s going to get bitten!”
I ran out the back door to find my oldest, still in his pajamas and bare feet, searching the long grass for snakes. The dogs were sniffing all around him, clearly trying to help.
“Hey,” I shouted. “What are you doing?”
The dogs looked back at me, but he didn’t. “I’m looking for the snake!” he shouted.
“In your bare feet?”
That stopped him. His eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open. “Oh.” Then he ran inside at top speed, the dogs gallumping around him.
My youngest was still in the kitchen. “I told him not to go,” he said as I came back in. “But he went, and I didn’t have any clothes on, so I couldn’t go outside to get you, and – “
“So you figured screaming was the next best thing?” I interrupted.
He laughed. “Yeah.”
“Go put some pants on, naked boy. You did great.”
That might have been a bit of an overstatement, but let’s face it. What else was he supposed to do? I mean, imagine that you’re a naked five year old whose big brother has just decided to go hunt snakes with his bare feet. What would you do?