By Bob Spiwak
I went out the back door the other day and was astonished to see the number of wheeled vehicles before me. This led to a stroll around the property, where I discovered even more, even eliminating from the count the 16 wheels on a truck and three cars.
The first item to greet the eye was a Garden Way cart. You may have seen these or their replicas. We bought this 24-inch-wheeled, 3-by-4 foot, three-walled conveyance in Spokane in 1981. April 14, to be exact, and I remember that because it was our wedding day and the cart was a gift to each other. Expensive too, over a hundred bucks even back then.
One might ask, what kind of wedding gift is a cart that looks like a one-third-sized miniature of the “bring out your dead” vehicle featured in the Monte Python and The Holy Grail movie from the 1960s. Our mutual desire for the cart came from an ad in Mother Earth News, through whose personal ads Gloria and I met.
Having five acres here to play with, it was an appealing instrument, and we both established a family joke based upon the display advertisements that showed a comely young woman pushing her cart full of plants and compost. She had on her countenance the biggest, brightest self-satisfied smile this side of a toothpaste ad. It was funny to us and we determined to smile whenever we used it.
I rehabbed it with a new plywood deck and sides after 33 years of service, most of them spent outside. Along with rotting wood, it had many screws loose, not merely the one my wife claims that I have. It will haul things beyond what any wheelbarrow can, now that I have mended its strut sclerosis.
Which brings us to more rolling stock in the form of wheelbarrows. Not counting the two that died and are now flower planters, there is one that is rusted substantially in the front end of the bucket, below which it sports a flat tire. Gloria thought this an excellent planter, needing only mesh across the rusted portion for drainage. Alongside is an orange ’barrow we got on sale at Home Depot. This has an inflated tire, and like the one mentioned before, is a “contractor’s” model. The down side of this is that the wheel-support bar across the front is too low and effects sudden stops. On one of these I, who sang bass in college, nearly became a soprano when it ran into a low mound of hard dirt.
Then there is the Chinese table-top wood splitter that has a pair of wheels at one end, and you need to be on your knees to pull it anywhere other than across a table. There’s a dolly that gets used maybe once a year. Around the corner, sheltered, are two bicycles, one for each of us, that have been pedaled a lofty three miles between them. They are surrounded by a mountain of winter tires, four for each vehicle.
Moving right along to the equipment shed, there is a garden tractor attached to a metal cart (six wheels together), two gasoline push mowers and a manual mower, a walk-behind manual putting-green mower, a canoe carrier, and a large air tank with compressor that has been awaiting repair since 19-something.
All this over the years probably contains enough rubber to support the Vietnamese economies — north and south — for a year at least. Disconnected and disconsolate lie another dozen tires in the barn loft. Our most recent rolling acquisition is a walker, designated for the elder member of the family.
And when we go out to do our gardening, which machine do we roll out to carry our shears and clippers and knives and fertilizers? None. We stick them in a plastic bucket and walk to the job site.