Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hand cultivating

A few weeks ago when I was at the hardware store for some mundane item, I picked up a lovely new cultivator. It was a cheap luxury - not more than $3 - but the wood handle fit so nicely and the sharp tines seemed so ... sharp.

Today I was working in a badly-neglected flower bed, trying to dig out weeds without disturbing the few remaining plants in the bed. Working with my little cultivator is slow work, but very satisfying. So is pulling out roots and stems of "field grass" (my term for the thick weed grass so prevalent in my yard) and clover. I know it would go much quicker with the tiller - I could just fire it up and plow through all those weeds! (Well, if I knew how to fire it up, that is).

But then I wouldn't be able to rescue a little patch of thyme, or a struggling little rose bush, or an earthworm. I wouldn't see the bees working on the clover - sorry about that, guys; there'll be something better soon. I wouldn't be able to talk to my daughter about the bees, and the worms, and the flowers we are going to plant for the people who will be living in our house for the next few years. The tiller's pretty loud.

As I worked I realized that working with hand tools is a little like homeschooling. I'd probably save a lot of time if I sent my kids to school. I bet my yard would look a lot better if I had 8 hours alone all day. But then I'd miss so many things, wouldn't I? Things more important than a nice-looking yard.

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