More examples of my work
Old Garden Friends Time spent with good friends and good gardening tools is time invested in seasons to come.
By Patsy Bell Hobson
You have certain friends for certain things. We need good
friends that will save us from Cherry Garcia ice cream. And true
friends who won't. I have a friend that gives me a start of a plant or
some seeds every time I see him. My husband digs holes. He will dig a
hole for a new tree or dig up and rescue abandoned farmhouse peonies.
You can't get a better friend than that.
We have certain garden tools for certain reasons, too. Tools to
loosen the soil and tools to cultivate it. Serious hard working tools
for the long row and cute little tools that will work in crowded garden
One of my best garden friends is an old wooden handled heavy
steel trowel that will plant or transplant anything I ask it to. We are
never far from each other in the spring and summer. It's the same with
the hole digger.
Still, every fall, there comes a time when the last hole is
dug, the last bulb planted. The garden season has ended. It's time for
One morning you wake up before everybody else and you hear to
the honking sounds of geese flying over. It is a day old garden friends
just recognize. It's time. Time to go see an old friend. Better do it
now. It may be the last time you see each other for a while.
Only the most stubborn leaves are hanging onto the trees this
morning. That's when I make a mug of honey mint tea. I pull on my
favorite worn and comfortable sweater and bring the mug with me to the
tool shed for our last visit. I bring something for the tools, too.
Old rags and oil, maybe a file to sharpen the hand tools. There are
more sophisticated ways and faster ways to clean tools. Sitting cross
legged on the wooden bench in the garden shed, using the hand tools to
help clean each other is my idea group therapy. And, I think the tools
might like it that way too. The spade is happy to help scape away any
mud on the shovel. We help each other. It's therapy. A reunion of
sorts. The pruner and I just smile as we remember what a time we had
with our first attempt at herbal bonsai.
This is the season's last garden party. It gives me time to
visit and evaluate the tools. I like being in the company of these old
friends. We take care of each other. Make life a little easier. Less
work for one another. It's about respect.
Next I begin a nice steady sharpening action with the heavy
file kept with the gardening equipment. It is a slow, rhythmic process,
and finally comes the caress of oil on the wooden handles. Clean.
Polished. Ready to rest. It is a quiet, peaceful process. Almost
Jules wakes and suspects something is going on out in that shed. When
he flings open the tool shed door, glaring sunlight exposes our tryst.
I feel guilty. I've been unexpectedly caught with my secret friends. My
husband looks down at me and realizes what's going on. He flashes me a
sweet, but sad little sympathetic smile.
Now Jules wants to join in. He wants to help.
He just can't resist the chance to plug in the big equipment. The power
tools. Power! Buzz, zap, whiz, they snap into action with the flip of a
"Here let me do that for you," says Jules. My friend the hoe
flies from my loving hands. "What you need is the bench grinder.
Something with a little muscle", says the helpful husband. The loud
roar of mega amps, mighty volts, whirr, zip, zing. He sharpens the hoe
to surgical precision. "Done!" He proudly thrusts the hoe back at me.
Oh great, I think. Should I come across an ailing chipmunk in
the garden, I can perform an emergency appendectomy without hesitation.
I can slice airborne mosquitoes in half and just keep working.
Some folks will never understand about friends and tools. Tool Cleaning Day is a last reunion, not a rally.
The end of the season is about slowing down. Getting ready for
a rest. Garden tools and husbands don't always know when to slow down.
They are always at the ready whenever you call on them. (And even when
Power tools may be why some men just don't have the
intimate and spiritual friendships that women do. Men with power tools
just don't get it. Can a man with a power tool obsession ever
understand about peace and meditation in a tool shed?
I just don't think you can hear Vivaldi's Four Seasons in your
head with a 120-grit sanding wheel plugged into a cordless 14 volt De
Walt power drill rolling across the back of a favorite shovel. My good
friend, the professional quality pruning shears, has been tempted to
stop the power tool roar with a quick snip, snip.
Tempting. But only for a moment. I form a plan for next year. I
will bring out two mugs of relaxing honey mint tea before I begin this
annual ritual. And invite Jules to come with me.
I am cultivating a philosophy here. All good gardeners know that can sometimes take years.
I've made an investment in good gardening tools and a good
husband. I intend to keep them around for a while. It's true newer,
shinier, sharper models come around. But the ones I have are
comfortable and familiar, and they dig holes just fine.
I intend to keep what I've got.
Patsy Bell Hobson Published Autumn, 2000 Green Prints, The Weeders Digest
Green PrintsAlso By Patsy Bell Hobson "Grandmothers Seeds" Spring 1996.
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