My husband, Eric, went home to Ireland for 2 1/2 weeks. As progressive as I’d like to think we are in our marriage, our household chores often fall along gender lines, specifically the use of heavy equipment. In my case, heavy equipment means the snow blower, the lawn mower, the gas grill, and the weed whacker. For a while it also meant the Cuisinart, but I’ve since mastered that piece of equipment.
Before Eric left, he was able to mow the lawn, but he had no time to weed whack around the house and the studio, including the steps to both. The overgrown grass and weeds looked unsightly and I could just imagine all the ticks licking their tiny tick lips as my dog, Andy, and I walked out the door. I had to take action.
Once Again, Outside the Comfort Zone
I’m no stranger to the weed whacker. I’ve used it once or twice before, but I’d never used it without Eric’s supervision. Plus, Eric usually starts it for me and I had no idea how to get it going. My confidence was shaky at best — where I grew up, ladies gardened, but they did not weed whack. We were groomed to be a bit helpless.
Assuming I’d never figure out how to operate the weed whacker on my own, I called a good friend, who is an amazing gardener/small farmer and knows these kinds of things. She was going to try to stop by, but the day got away from her. After several hours of waiting, I decided to take on the weed whacker myself. For goodness sakes, I thought, quit being so dependent on people. It’s a weed whacker, not a rocket ship. Still, I was a wreck, as I crossed into what seemed like the forbidden territory of lawn equipment.
Clearly outside of my comfort zone and all on my own, I carefully read the directions and tried not to panic at words like full choke and half choke. I followed the instructions to the letter, scared that one misstep could lead to some sort of yard tool explosion or perhaps the loss of a digit. I carefully filled the weed whacker with what I hoped was the right gas/oil mixture, pushed the bubble to pump the gas into the engine, and tried to pull-start the weed whacker numerous times. Sadly, no success. I knew it must be my lack of upper body strength. I felt like a big wimp.
Helen Reddy Would Be Proud
The artist in me, however, that loves clean lines and edges could not bear the thought of two more weeks of lawn chaos. Plus, I could hear the ticks plotting their attacks. I had to weed whack. I called several neighbors to see if they could help me start the engine, including the woman next door who has single-handedly built her own home. If she can build a house, can’t I at least start a weed whacker?
No neighbors were home. My mind frantically tried to problem solve. The answer came at last. Google “how to start a weed whacker.”
Sure enough, up popped a video with a young man from Tampa, my hometown, telling me how to start the weed whacker. Turns out, I’d done most everything accurately. The problem was not my lack of upper body strength; the problem was lack of leverage. Once I positioned the weed whacker correctly and gave the pull-start a yank, the engine sputtered to life and I was good to go. It was all I could do not to knock on all the neighbors’ doors and tell them my news.
Later that same week, I told a new story to nearly 1,000 folks at The Moth and World Science Festival event. It was a proud moment. But conquering the weed whacker? That opened up a whole new world. Anything seems possible now. In fact, look for me in a few weeks, using the gas grill.
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