Manual Labour

👤Charlynn Toews 🕔Aug 01, 2016

Did you know you can “save money and garage space” with a brand-name 12-amp compact blower vacuum? The blurb says it “assists with tiresome yard work.” And “while able to exceed hurricane-force winds, this product can be eased to a gentler setting to work delicate gardens and flower beds,” all for $158.99.

Better yet, for $399.99, get a gas-powered 29CC backpack leaf blower that features a powerful and easy-to-start X-Torq engine combined with an effective fan designed to deliver high air speed and high air flow. Leaves, hear me roar!

I went for the 24-inch fan rake for $27.99 to save even more money and garage space, because I don’t find yard work tiresome in the least. I know that even having a yard is a great privilege, as is having the leisure to spend time in it. While I usually have two or three jobs, they do not exhaust to the point that I only have time to work, eat and sleep—no, I can putter for hours in the long evenings of our midnight sun.

And, while I cannot exceed hurricane-force winds, I can be eased to the gentler setting needed to work around my veg and flowers. In fact, I think “gentle” is my only setting in the yard. Another thing I know is what “keeps the yard neat and tidy,” and it’s not a what, it’s a who: me.

OK, and my hubby and my kidling. I prefer my lightweight and stubborn manual mower, the kind Grandma had. It makes a soothing clicking, clattering sound, quiet enough not to wake the neighbour’s baby. It also offers a clever alternative to paying to go to a gym, as I do not simply walk behind it pushing effortlessly. It provides an awesome workout for my core, as I yank it back and forth, this way and that, over and over to get it to actually cut the grass, not just push it over. Built into this heroic effort is the need to take numerous breaks to rest and sip cool drinks, admiring my results so far.

However, if I let the grass get a bit too long, my manual can no longer cut it. Both hubby and kidling claim the manual mower “doesn’t work,” and I ask them how the grass got shorter for the past 20 years. Anyway, the menfolk prefer noisy gas-powered weed-whackers and lawn mowers and I sometimes ask them to pollute the air and peacefulness of our neighbourhood with some petroleum products, and they are happy to oblige.

Did you know that manual mowers are mulching mowers? That’s right, no need to rake. Hubby’s beast of a mower growls and burps and spits up great green wads of grass that, if left in place, will kill the grass underneath. Because the rake is not gas-powered, hubby and kidling do not like to use it, so I happily clear up the clippings and pile them around the garden perimeter to prevent the need to use the weed-whacker anywhere near my precious tomatoes.

Hubby puts away the mower and deservedly goes inside to rest after his 10-minute walk around the yard, so he does not see me rake. In fact, he believes that I do not rake, because he says the grass seed he purchased is “Miracle Grow with Auto-Migration Technology™ by CIL available at Canadian Tire.” Yup, that’s right: the clippings make their own way to my vegetable garden edges.

Inside, I trip over hubby’s giant Sound and Fury™ vacuum cleaner that takes up one-quarter of the spare room, its dragon-like tails coiling dangerously underfoot. My straw broom stands neatly and compactly at attention, ready for me to work my abs and upper arms with brisk whisking.

It’s not an actual competition (wait, I think maybe it is), but if you to go head-to-head, vacuum to broom, on that cat hair stuck to the doormat, guess who wins? Manual labour rules!