Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I have several
of my grandfather's old farm and garden tools. Let me see...there are the corn sheller and corn grinder (both turned by hand and powered by elbow grease); a shrub shears with long blades powered the same way; some hay pitchforks; a scythe, assorted spades and shovels some with his initials carved into the handle (Does that mean there was risk of them being taken, or in some way finding their way away from the farm or getting mixed in with those of others? Were there barn-raising-type workdays when farmers pitched in and helped one another with the work at critical times? Probably).
There is a bush whacker; a post hole digger with no moving parts from the days before the "modern" two movable handles type; a long handle lopper; a machete for cutting canebreak bamboo, corn stalks, and sorghum cane; hoes of various shapes and sizes; and one tool I've never figured out what it was for, but I can tell you with confidence that it didn't make the work easier.
Some of those tools I still use. There is not a weed eater (gasoline or electric powered); nor a leaf blower; nor any shrub trimmer electric or otherwise; nor power lawnmowers among the lot; things I think I must have to get the work done.
And, certainly there is no pocket radio, I Pod, or Walkman, nothing with batteries and earplugs. But worst of all - there was no cell phone! This modern gardener's, yours truly's, most favorite of garden tools!
My cell phone is the best energy saving device I have - energy of both others and mine. When a new helper starts working here, I hand him/her my cell phone and say, "Please put your number into my phone and my number into yours. I have no idea how to do it." Sometimes, they just stand there and call from one to the other, then "capture" the number. Who knows, I have no idea how. But all the young people do, so I just let them do it. Then I carry it in a pocket of my old cobbler's apron, which I wear just for the three pockets.
Aren't pockets wonderful! I load my apron pockets with things I need out there, such as a finger-tip towel to wipe my brow; a sweat band in case I forget to put one on until I'm down in the dell or some such inconvenient and remote location, a red bandana for when I forget to replenish the tissues in my pocket, house key, a small pad of paper with pencil to assist my poor memory, a bit of string in case something needs tying up, a small piece of wood I found that's nicely shaped for cleaning my trowel, several plastic bags for slipping over my hand when I pull poison ivy, and last, but most important of the lot, is my cell phone.
Phone rings: Husband/Best Friend/Chief Photographer's voice: "Where are you? I've been all the way down the hill trying to find you." Me: "I'm in front, weeding beside the front steps".... He's learned to call sooner.
I'm weeding rockery. Phone rings: Helper's voice: "Mrs. Crocker, I can't come at ten o'clock; I have to wait for the cable service man to come and connect my cable service. They said they'd be here sometime between eight and five. I'll be there as soon as I can after he leaves." I know certain tasks will have to be rescheduled or reassigned to the next helper who's supposed to arrive at one o'clock.
I'm setting out pansies. Phone rings: Helper's voice: "Mrs. Crocker, I was on my way, but my car died at the traffic light at Versailles and Parker's Mill Roads. Do you know where I should have it towed to?" Maybe an empty nest wouldn't be so bad.
It's about 3:30 p.m.; I call the house phone: "Honey, we three are in the dell sitting in the new iris bed weeding, and we underestimated the early spring heat. We are just about to pass out, would you please bring water - ice water, and maybe some cookies??"
Then there are the between-us-calls, the gardener and her helpers. (They all have cell phones, one helper lost his and feared his mother was going to "kill" him, another said he'd lost eight!)
We use them like an intercom system while we are working. Phone rings: Neal's voice, "Hey, it's me. I'm still out here on the steep part of the bank and these prickly lettuce weeds are already going to seed. Do you still want me to put them on the brush pile or do you want me to bag them and send them to the landfill."
Me from the up-hill shade garden - on phone to Ben who's at the far back property line down in the dell, beyond the woodland garden: "Ben, do you have the loppers? Are you still needing them?"
I have no idea how cell phones work, but most of the time they do work, and how did I ever get along without one! This wonderful modern convenience, and my very favorite gardening tool! A telephone in my apron pocket! What will they think of next?!