Blog: Mother Earth Heals
by Liora Leah

Tools & Sweat

First of eight stories in the Yard Notes series, in loving memory of my father. Dad prided himself on using only hand tools and a push mower to tend the many bushes, shrubs, and trees that he planted himself in the yard of our home.

Date:   9/5/2007 1:48:39 AM   ( 14 y ) ... viewed 1740 times

Photograph by Liora Leah August 2007

Tools and Sweat

When Mom and Dad bought the suburban house that I am now living in, it was 1959 and the house, brand new, cost $19,000.  My brother was seven years old, and I was three.  Since my sister was born three weeks after we moved in, I always count the age of the house by how old she is.  Initially, there was no landscaping on the 1/5 acre property. Dad planted every tree, bush, and shrub himself, not an easy feat when one considers the hardpan clay soil that Dad had to work with.  I remember him digging the holes for the planting of the trees, about 6 feet deep, so that the new saplings could “have a good start,” as Dad used to say.  

Every weekend, for as far back as I can remember, Dad did all of the yard work, conscripting his three children whenever he needed help.  Until he bought an electric mower when he was in his 70’s, Dad never used a power tool, with the exception of one time, preferring old-fashioned hand tools and a push mower.  He even had a long-pole devise to trim the trees, until this became too difficult to do when the trees grew large and thick-limbed, and a once-a-year tree trimming service was employed.

The one time Dad used a power tool, before his elder years and the coming of the electric mower, was one summer when my brother was home on break from college.  Bro volunteered to trim the ivy on the front easement, and after his task was complete, he came into the house, hot, sweaty, tired, and sore-muscled from using Dad’s hand shears.  The three of us children agreed that Dad was working way too hard on the yard, and we bought him an electric hedge trimmer for Father’s Day, the kind with a rechargeable battery.  Dad thanked us, used the devise one time in front of us, much to our satisfaction, and then when we weren’t looking, promptly retired it to the garage, never to use it again. When cleaning out the garage after Dad died, I came upon the old trimmer, rusted out and forlorn. 

Now, almost every house in the neighborhood has its gardening service. Every Friday I feel like the neighborhood is under siege, what with all of the noise from the power weed-whackers, lawn-mowers, hedge-trimmers, and leaf-blowers. For the first year after I moved into the home of my childhood, in the summer of 2001 after Mom died, I tried to keep up with all of the yard work myself.  It proved impossible to do, and I finally succumbed to hiring a gardener who mows the lawn and keeps the hedges and shrubs trimmed. I pay him extra money to NOT use leaf-blowers; he uses the old-fashioned implements of brooms and rakes to clean up. 

When I was a child, I sullenly did Dad’s yard work assignments. Now, I enjoy going out into the yard to prune some of the bushes, the bamboo, and the numerous potted plants, using good ol’ fashioned hand tools.  I can understand Dad’s unspoken love of the tasks, as it gives one a sense of accomplishment to sweat and work hard for several hours in the yard, using the strength of ones muscles…although recently I have been thinking about buying an electric hedge-trimmer…

Yard Notes Introduction:  First Things First

Second story in the Yard Notes series:  Grass & Water

Third story in the series:   Dandelions & Snails

Fourth story: Trees & Fence

Fifth story:  Berries & Concrete

Sixth story: Tree Dreams

Seventh story:  Star Jasmine

Eighth story:  Monster Plants

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