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Blade running

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Years ago, for some big birthday, my wife gave me the monster tool of my dreams—the almighty DR All-Terrain brush mower. I had been blowing out successive push-behind mowers every three or four years as I extended the perimeter of our yard and orchard. But with my new DR, I was now clear-cutting saplings, blazing new trails and seeing fresh shortcuts through the old woods every weekend. I had to build a special ramp to get it in our shed. Once I dared myself to dial the monster up to top speed (that's number six on the lever), and next thing I knew, I was sitting at the bottom of an embankment.

A few years later, I realized that all I was doing during my coveted daylight hours—after work, at sunrise on Saturday or even Friday mornings—was mowing the massive lawn. I was surrounded by a sprawling green grass nightmare. The kids loved it. The dogs loved it. The deer loved it, too. But all I did besides mow and maintain was go to the convenience store to fill up on gas for the powerful DR.

Turns out, DR is good at more than just making potent tools: My darling wife had given the company both of our names so I could get updates on my new machine and, of course, what else they had to sell perennial yard wrestlers like me. We started getting two of every glossy drop-in, seasonal sale reminder, email blast, video presentation and discount flyer they had. Usually the catalogs went straight to the recycling bin and the electronic missives straight to the junk box, but DR's very effective marketing team finally snagged me one morning.

On a beautiful spring day behind a huge mug of fresh coffee, I was taking a break from the mower or the chickens, idly flipping through the company's most recent end-of-winter, one-time-only discount brochure.

And there it was, for half price: a snow blade/grader attachment for my All-Terrain. "Who doesn't need one of those?" I thought, falling prey to their changing-seasons tactics. I was born in Vermont, so snow was part of my most formative vocabulary. Snow-shoveling was what we did six months of the year. This would've prevented that.

With its talk of "pushing power," "a 42-inch pivoting 11-gauge steel blade" and easy installation without any tools, the catalog copy had me salivating. So I pulled the proverbial trigger. Had I forgotten about global warming? Maybe. Had it slipped my mind that Middlebury was 750 miles due north of Hillsborough? Guilty as charged. But soon it was mine.

I must admit that I have never used the snow blade. It now sits in the shed, still shiny, ready for the next Piedmont blizzard. We put it up on Craigslist last week. I'm looking for a small mower for this big spring.

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