Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Proper Tools and Press-On Nails

I’ve discovered that the garden tools are for something. They’re more than for looks. Forget what you see in Country Living magazine where they’re tied with ribbon and hung on the wall next to rusty wrought-iron gates and butterfly collections. All these years I’ve had them and not used one of them. Didn’t even give one to the kids to dig in the yard. Kitchen spoons are for that.

No wonder I was dreading weeding the garden. The tools make it much easier. I stumbled upon this fact when I was weeding and found a carpet of crabgrass that was too dense to pull out by hand. The spade shovel, which I had been using for big clumps of weeds, was down at the barn. I looked over there. I didn’t feel like walking back down to the barn considering I was back and forth there a half dozen times already and Kurt was not going to bring it to me. He was busy hammering. He was building an addition onto the barn—a new hay shed. A skeleton of posts and boards was up already. It looked like a giant wooden shipping crate. It was either go and get the shovel or give up and just mow it.

Then it occurred to me. The little garden tool I kept on the shelf in the garage next to the other things I never used like the bone meal and the tiki torch oil was just like a spade shovel, only smaller. What was it for? Could it be used for things other than making holes? I got it out and tried it. It worked! It was a revelation. The weeds came right up. I started making some tracks. Before I knew it, I was on the other side of the pool giving the pampas grass and the hostas some breathing room. Then I dug up the weeds that were choking the blue festucas.

Heck, you don’t even need gardening gloves if you use the proper tools. You just loosen up the offender with the little shovel thing and the weeds pop right out. No more trying to get a good grip on it with your fingers or wearing holes into the fingers of your gloves before the little daisy pictures on them have faded or grinding dirt under your fingernails that you can’t get out without using Lava soap. Forget artificial nails. Those days were over when I didn’t know about the tools.

Why, in my hay-day, when I was single and on the man-hunt, before I lived on a farm, I was famous for my nails and rumor has it that’s how I hooked Kurt. When I showed up on our second date with my nails painted white with black polka dots to coordinate with my little polka dotted shorts and matching jacket and the polka dotted high heels…and then topped it off when I appeared for our Super Bowl party date with my nails painted in the GoGiants logo, I swear, that clenched the deal and he proposed.

But living on a farm, I had to come down to earth in more ways than one and I traded manicures for the farrier. (The farrier, also known as the blacksmith, takes care of horses’ feet) It’s pretty much the same, both involving trimming and filing, occasional soaking and conditioning, regular appointments and tips. And held hostage for a certain amount of time, whether in the chair or on the cross-ties in the barn, this is the person who you yak with. Sort of a quasi-psychologist, you let it all out because there is nothing worse than just standing there, or in the case of getting your nails done, sitting there, in the dead silence while the horse, from time to time, snorts snot all over your shirt or the manicurist clears her throat. So you talk. You share news, swap tid-bits, and gossip. In fact, that was how I found out about Virginia. My farrier told me.

At any rate, Kurt also discovered things today. He stomped past me and reported, “I’ve realized the importance of Mexicans. How come whenever you need something, it’s always on the bottom of the pile?” He was talking about the stack of lumber in front of the barn, chest high, that took us two hours to move there.

“Mexicans are hard workers,” I agreed. “And they work cheap.” Then I looked at the rest of the yard. I was done with the bed around the pool, but there were beds around the house, down the walkway and in the front corner by the mailbox. Tools or no tools, it was not going to be easy.

“Who cares if they’re sending all their hard-earned cash back home?” I cried. “Let’s get them over here! I hear they’re pretty good gardeners too.”

But that was only a joke. We never hire anyone to help us unless it’s something we don’t have the technical knowledge to do and can’t find the information on the internet to learn how. It’s the trade off we make, allowing me to stay home to take care of the farm and our daughter and write my stories. If we called the plumber every time we ran into a problem or the roofing guy whenever there was a leak, I’d have to go out to work to pay for it all and that defeats the whole purpose of this country lifestyle that we love—why, just last night I made a peach cobbler from the peaches Kelly and I bought at the orchard we discovered on our way to the vet’s office. If I was actually working in the vet’s office, there’d be no cobbler, I can tell you that.

Well, maybe now, now that I’ve learned what the tools are for, perhaps I could apply some press-on nails and paint a little farm scene on them. I was thinking of a green and yellow motif reminiscent of a John Deere tractor. Hey, it’s never too late to spice up a marriage. Or to learn about gardening tools.


Heather Froeschl said...

Love the polka dot nail image! Nope you can't garden in tips. At least not in the get down and dirty in the weeds way you need to. Hand tools ARE great. I never liked gardening gloves...too thick. I need to feel that piece of crabgrass between my fingers as I yank it from the base of my tomato plants. I try to wear surgical gloves but tend to run out of them. Yep, even those boxes of 500 go fast!
Nice essay Debi!

House on the Glade Hill said...

Debi, I also neglect the tools that can help me. Wait 'till I show you the black nail I have from when I shut my finger in the door. Gross!

Where is the peach orchard? I wanna go there!!

Great story- I love the combination of gardening tools and press on nails!