Welcome to the lower 40, otherwise known as the front yard of Chateau Thompson — three-and-a-half acres of rolling hillside that drops off sharply from the front of our house, sloping as much as 35 degrees as it plunges down towards a creek and the intersection of Greenbriar Lane (a private road) and Sandy Flats Road, which is sandy but never flat. At current gas prices it costs between $15 and $20 and takes most of a day to mow this expanse of green. The yard extends all the way down to the road and beyond the driveway that slopes down out of sight on the left. The yard and the view were high on the list of things that attracted us when we bought the house. But John Paul Houston, a previous owner, has since told us he had trouble selling the place because of the front yard. Too many people, he said, took one look at the yard and said "no way I’m mowing that." On some days, after several hours of dealing with the many twists and turns or leaning into the hill to keep the mower upright I wonder if they weren’t smarter than us. But only on some days.