Frabjous Times


The weather today was lovely for doing a little work in the garden. After the hoeing and planting and watering and weeding, my attention turned to the tall weedy growth beside our driveway. Now this area where we live was once woodlands and, left to its own, would become overgrown with the sort of wild green stuff that makes up the understory of a hardwood Eastern forest. In addition to that, when we first moved into the place, I happened to pick a few species of plants which are energetic re-seeders (to put it nicely): tansy (an insect-repelling herb), wormwood (the active ingredient in absinthe), and yarrow (the I Ching plant itself). While I like the ferny habits of all of these, left unchecked they can get a bit out of hand.

The solution: Thwacking time.

I pretty much always stay away from powered garden tools, which give off sounds which upset my ears and which require complicated upkeep (gasoline, extension cords, etc.). Instead I turn to my small collection of hand tools to accomplish what I need to, including a grass cutter. This item is wielded two-handed, and has a serrated steel blade which cuts on the forehand and the backhand swing. I take the tool in hand, addressing the plant in need of trimming, then bring it whistling down to cut it off at the stem. I don't play golf (despite what the amused onlookers sometimes have to say about this operation), but I imagine the motion to be something like what one has to do with a sand wedge, though perhaps directed a few inches higher from the ground is all. Severed leaves and plant bits either then fall to the ground, stunned-looking, perhaps, or if I catch a little bit of resistance, fly off in an arc tangentially to the blow to rain down a ways away. Then the backswing comes, and the murderous blade comes back to clean up any loose stragglers which might have escaped the first treatment.

Disclaimer for the squeamish plant-lovers: all the species subjected to this operation are the kinds which seem to have their growth stimulated by close pruning. While it is slashing, I don't do any burning afterwards and the defoliatory effect is strictly temporary.

One time, while mowing down some high grass outside our fence, one of our neighbors from across the street drove by, commenting "You like to do this the hard way!" I said something about how for me this is the easy way to do things. More than that, it is the cheapest kind of therapy available for this 21st century citizen. While engaged in this pleasant exertion, my body can delude itself thinking swashbuckling thoughts, as if it were a two-handed sword I was bearing into some desperate battle. During the week, while engaged in my programmerly duties at work, I tweak and fiddle with little abstract symbols on a screen, and the reward consists of terse little messages representing the outcome of a test. When mowing down my green foes in the garden, blade honed to a vicious edge, I can see the immediate results of my good, valiant, work, and it is most gratifying.

Last modified: 23-Sep-2007 07:11 PM link.