"...All the rain and cool temps had left me with some work to do: ..." Was your wife laid up in the hospital while you were gone???
In some ways we're very "traditional:" example, she handles the laundry, I take care of the yard. She's never used a lawn mower before, and we weren't expecting growing conditions to be so incredibly perfect while I was gone, so we didn't think there was any reason to plan on her taking care of while I was gone. I knew it would be long, but nothing like what I saw when I got home. I jacked up the mower for the first cut, and then cut it again a couple of days later at the normal height; it was still a struggle.