For all the attention the spring and fall marathons attract, there is a red, white, and blue, freshly mown grass quality to the U.S. summer road circuit, something purely American akin to Broadway musicals like The Music Man and Oklahoma!
Last weekend was the quintessentially Mid-American Quad City Times Bix 7 Road Race in Davenport, Iowa, celebrating its 44th anniversary. During my 26th year at the Bix, I was brought back once again to the charms of that great rolling land with its open , friendly faces, wide front lawns, and the smell of freshly mown grass. It is a deeply seeded memory anchored in my own Midwestern upbringing down the Mississippi River in St. Louis.
But just as dearly as I loved the loamy fragrance of a freshly cut lawn, even more did I hate the chore that brought it about. But since most parents in those less-child-centric times still ruled with an unbending hand and believed in the Emersonian qualities of hard work, I was forced on many occasions into action not of my choosing with implements of yard work in my bony little hands.
This dichotomy, then, between parental will and my own private interests became the motivation that led me to a system whereby my desire not to do such things as yard work would supersede their need for my household contributions. I found it to be a design for a mostly chore-free childhood existence. I’ll explain. (more…)