Fresh cuts

The hum of a lawn mower signals warm days are here.

> To listen, go to I know, I know, the winters can be terrible. But here’s the upside of living well north of the Mason-Dixon: As the weather warms, it rarely warms too much. So we can throw open our windows and just live like that, for months, letting the inside and outside worlds merge into one. This always invites new sounds and smells into the house, including one particular pairing that summons sweet memories of sitting near the window in my childhood bedroom: the hum of a lawn mower and the scent of freshly trimmed grass. I realize the sound of gas-powered machinery can cut both ways; indeed, the mower is like a summer cousin of the dreaded leaf blower, whose racket is inescapable come fall. For me, it’s a glass-half-full kind of thing. That persistent, low-grade motor growl simply says that the best days of the year are upon us. It’s most apparent in the suburbs, of course, especially where people have the money to hire landscaping companies, whose creaky trailers line the roadsides. On a recent afternoon, I found what I was after in Wellesley, listening as a small crew made quick work of a plush lawn on Oakland Street. I’ll submit that it’s something best enjoyed from a distance, unlike the grass itself, which beckons bare feet until the cold returns.

WHAT SOUNDS TELL YOU THAT SUMMER IS COMING?Send ideas to or via Twitter @swhelman.