The Weed Eater

On one of my trips back from austin i stopped at a hardware store to pick up something i’d been meaning to get. The grass right against the shed and the house had become long and unruly. Also, there was the grass in the area that i’d let go uncut so the thistles would not be mowed down and could be enjoyed by the birds, the bees, and the butterflies. The grass was too tall for my 5 blade reel mower. It would just bend the grass over and roll right off the blades. I needed something to cut it back into submission with. The area was too large to rely on the loppers. I needed a weed eater. I objected to spending 100 to 120 dollars on a weed eater and i wasnt going to so i waited until i could get to the store i had in mind where i found it for 50 bucks. I needed to get back to my little town before sundown or i’d have to evade the deer driving home in the dark. The sun was setting and i was in a hurry. I found the weed eaters but i needed to know which one would get the job done for the least amount of money. I had narrowed it down to two options. I had a couple questions about each which when answered would make the winner apparent. I found an employee who gave me a rundown of the differences between each weed eater. The guy told me what i needed to know to make my decision and i grabbed the box and some extra cord and headed to the checkout. He called, “do you have an extension cord already?” I answered, “yes.” I had 5. He called again, “do you need help carrying that?” I said, “no thank you”, still walking towards the registers. He called once again, nearly shouting now, “do you know how to use it?” I answered as i turned the corner out of sight, “i’m sure there are instructions.” There were; instructions for both assembly and use. I checked out quickly and made it back to town right as the sky darkened beyond visibility. I heated the tiny house, ate a snack, and went to bed. The next morning around dawn i put my new weed eater together. The dogs watched me intently as i fiddled with the instructions, turning and snapping things into place. When i got the thing assembled i went to the shed and drug out all the extension cords. If you ever want to pull all your hair out, buy something battery powered. Whether it be a weed eater, a lawn mower, or a cordless drill…it will never hold its charge and you will be swearing like a sailor and tearing the thing to pieces by project # 5. I wanted one with a cord. I’d rather drag it around the yard than lack the power i needed. I had a strict no fuel policy on the property. The only thing with gasoline in it was the car. I was very familiar with fire. Living in an area prone to drought and lots of it, i’d seen the devastation a fire could cause in the blink of an eye and i knew how quickly a fire could escape one’s grasp. I did not allow the storage of fuel in any of my sheds simply because i was not a full-time homesteader and if something did get set ablaze, i would not be there to see to getting it put out. So i hooked all the extension cords together and plugged them into the house. I set the handle at the angle i wanted and pushed down on the button. The weed eater buzzed to life. I began cutting the grass away from the side of the house. It wasn’t perfect but the house began to emerge from the gaggle of weeds it was in. It was kind of like trimming a man’s beard during self care training. There was still grass but it was shorter and neater than it had been. I was instantly addicted. I enjoyed anything that allowed me to mold and shape the landscape to my liking…the mower, the loppers, the manual hand saw, the weed eater, the post hole digging stick. I loved those tools the most. I spent a good 6 hours weed eating the yard. I used it to trim around buildings first but then i had to dig the well house out of the “butterfly patch” the name i had given the chunk of land i quit mowing so that the thistles would grow for the animals that enjoyed them in the summer. I used the loppers to cut down the old dried-up thistle stalks and then went through one patch at a time with the weed eater, cutting the grass down short; using the weed eater as a make-shift mower. Though my body ached i wouldn’t stop until i was finished shaping my landscape. I was like a dog with a bone when i had a project and only the coming of sundown could keep me from my purpose. When i finally finished the last bit of grass the weed eater was in desperate need of a new cord and my clothes were soaked with sweat. I unplugged the weed eater and laid it in the shadow of the house towards the back, where my new tool couldn’t be spotted from the street. I stumbled towards the house with ice cold apple juice on my mind. I made it in and began peeling off the layers of clothes i had bundled in for the chill of dawn…layers i should have removed when the sun took over the sky. I stepped out of my boots, bright red blisters on my feet from walking and sweating in them without socks for 6 hours. There was no time for socks. I was on a mission to get stuff done. There had also not been any time for breakfast. Food would have to wait. I stripped off everything but an undershirt and collapsed on the bed, muscles exhausted and angry with me. I slept for a couple hours. It was restless uneasy sleep. I knew i was uncomfortable, dehydrated, and hungry. I also knew my new tool was still caked in grass in the yard. It needed cleaning and it needed put away in the shed. But alas, i couldn’t move. I laid there and waited until my body had gotten enough rest to do what my brain was willing it to. I was surprised how sore and weak i was. I had not noticed the weight of the weed eater or the angle of my back while i was using it. I was focused on my task. Only once i was still did i realize the trouble. I hobbled around the tiny house, pulling on my shoes and securing my machete. My new toy was still in the yard. The caked on grass had baked in the sun and i brushed it easily from the plastic. I carried the weed eater to the shed and found it an official spot in the tool shed. I coiled and put away the extension cords. Then i took a look around. Everything was short again like in the spring. I lamented at the thought of cutting down a thistle patch again next summer. I was tempted to say i wasn’t doing it again, but the birds and the bees really loved the thistles so much. I couldn’t take them all away without leaving them a patch. I sat still in the house, drank cold apple juice, and tried not to move. The yard looked good. There was no more danger that the house and shed might disappear in the tall grass.

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