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Lawnmower man: Canada dad cuts lawn as tornado looms – and photo goes viral

The Guardian logo The Guardian 5/06/2017 Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
Theunis Wessels mows his lawn at his home in Three Hills, Alberta, as a tornado swirls in the background. © AP Theunis Wessels mows his lawn at his home in Three Hills, Alberta, as a tornado swirls in the background.

A Canadian man’s commitment to lawn care has earned him international fame, after social media lit up with a photo of him mowing the lawn as a large tornado loomed on the horizon.

On Friday evening, as dark clouds began to gather near Three Hills, Alberta, Theunis Wessels paid little mind. Instead his thoughts were focused on the busy weekend that lay ahead for the family.

The list of chores he was hoping to get done included cutting the lawn. “I had to get it cut,” he told CTV News. “A lot of things happening over the weekend. Children were attending swim meets and some other sporting events over the weekend, so I had to make sure I got it done.”

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He began mowing the lawn while his wife was napping. His nine-year-old daughter, nervous about the swirling twister gathering behind him, urged him to come inside. When he refused, she woke up his wife.

His wife, Cecilia Wessels, came out shortly after and snapped a few pictures, including one that captured her husband casually mowing the lawn against the dramatic backdrop of the tornado. It was the first time anyone in the family, originally from South Africa, had seen a tornado.

“I did ask him if he was coming inside with that thing in the clouds when I turned to come inside and he calmly said no,” she told the Associated Press.

Her husband insisted that he was closely monitoring the twister’s movement. “It was just forming and getting bigger,” he said. “I was seeing it coming up. I was watching it all the time. I was keeping an eye on it.”

The tornado was much farther away than it appeared in the photo, he said, and was quickly moving east, away from their home. No injuries were reported after the twister travelled through the area, bringing down trees and ripping the roof off a barn.

His wife later posted the photo of her husband on social media, where it racked up thousands of shares and comments. “Nothing stops a Canadian from mowing his lawn,” joked one on Twitter,while another noted: “When the going gets tough, the tough get mowing.”

Speaking to CTV, Wessels noted – a slight hint of pride creeping into this voice – that despite all, he had managed to check the lawn off the weekend’s to-do list. “I did get the lawn finished and it looks nice.”

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