Sunday, April 17, 2005

Yard Work

I knew I wouldn't escape. I was blissfully relaxing (well, really feigning sleep) when my wife asked for some help in the yard. It was 10:00.

We had picked up a Mantis from some friends yesterday and she needed help "starting it." She said: "Do you want to help?" Yeah, sure. Asking me if I want to help with yard work is like asking a condemned man if he wants to build his own casket.

The Mantis, in case you haven't seen one, is a 1/2 horse-powered red tilling machine. It's got teeth or tines on wheels that rotate while you walk backwards and pull it along the earth. But when you start it up, it vibrates your arms off. We have lots of rocks embedded in hard Georgia clay. So you can imagine my joy when I saw my teeth rattle right out of my head. (As I write this, my hands are still tingling and I think I've lost feeling on my fingers. I'm convalescing now.)

We were out there for hours it seemed and I'd only gotten half done. Ruth kept saying: "Isn't yard work enjoyable?" Ah huh, I nodded. She MUST be joking, this woman has gone nuts. How could anyone enjoy getting dirt under their fingernails, pollen in their eyes, and gas fumes up their nose? I'm not seeing it.

Just starting the Mantis wore me out. Maybe you need to pray to get it started? (No, then it would be a Praying Mantis, ha!) I primed and choked and coxed and . . . oooppsss, I forgot to flip it to Start. Okay, it should start now. But it didn't. I think it was objecting to the fool at it's controls.

I stopped and walked the yard like a boxer getting ready to go back into the ring. I returned to this little Red Devil and went at it with all my might. Finally, it coughed to a rough idle. And then it quit. But I was determined now and after a few more pulls it finally started.

As I say, the yard is rough to till. The ground gave up large rocks like a dental patient giving up wisdom teeth. They came out after much trouble and left pockets in the earth behind.

Three hours later I was exhausted, done, and finished, but the yard wasn't. Ruth looked up when she didn't hear the Mantis groaning and called out: "Isn't yard work fun?" If she says that one more time I'll . . . "Yes, dear." How could I get mad when she gave me a big smile from under that large white gardening hat she wears? I went back to work.

A few minutes later Eric called out from the back porch: "Do you guys know what time it is? It's 12:15!" Yikes, we're supposed to be somewhere at 1:00. Bless his heart. Give that kid more money for his allowance.

I should have thought of this idea before. I could have had him come out hours ago. What a fool I've been.

Gardening requires a lot of water - most of it in the from of perspiration. -Lou Erickson