Sadly this is a recurring theme. You know what I’m talking about. Spring arrives, unwanted and unsightly vegetation grows and it’s time to break out the grass-cutting devices. I have previously detailed some of my travails in this realm and I supposed it’s time for an update so here it is — the weeds on my road are knee-high and steadily growing at a prolific rate due to recent rains. This means that my trusty weed-eater and I are once again on the prowl. I must say that my relationship with this implement has been a particularly close one since we moved to the country and bought land that is blessed with an abundance of un-wanted foliage.
So a couple of days ago I trudged out to the barn in hopes that someone had stolen my weed-whacker but there it sat in full readiness. Since no one had seen fit to pilfer it my next thought was that maybe it wouldn’t crank and I’d have an excuse to put this chore off for a few more days. No such luck. The old boy cranked on the third pull and was raring to go. It is an utterly amazing utensil. I’ve had it ten years and have cut hundreds of bales of grass with it yet it never misses a beat. Darn.
With a heavy heart I checked out the road. It looked like Tom Sawyer’s fence stretching into infinity — except there were no passers-by for me to try to scam into helping me out. So, unto the breach once more dear friends I went. The first hour was uneventful except for some petty exhaustion and a couple of minor lip lacerations from sticks that flew into my face. I took a break to get a drink from my flask, which did indeed contain water and began anew. The second hour of labor would prove more eventful.
I should pause to say that this was no ordinary weed-bank. It was more like native jungle growth and about ten minutes into round two I was fortunate enough to have a close encounter with a snake. My fear of snakes is well documented and so it should come as no surprise to you that I let loose with a yelp of surprise and dismay. I think the word I used began with an “S” but since the weed-eater was going full blast I couldn’t actually hear what came out of my mouth so it shouldn’t count as a cuss word.
My next reflex was to swat at the serpent with the weed-eater but it didn’t have the desired effect. Unfortunately half of the reptile wound up wrapped around my neck and I couldn’t immediately tell if it was the tail end or the business end. I quickly upgraded to a two-syllable bad word but I’m not going to tell you what that one started with cause it’s too easy to guess. As for the curious among you I should say that since I’m not a herpetologist I couldn’t really tell you what kind of snake it was that attacked me except to say that it was large and brown and I that didn’t tarry long enough to further identify it.
With the snake picture still firmly imprinted on my brain I decided to work on an entirely separate part of the road. The only problem was that now every stick I ran across looked like a snake and it made working efficiently problematic. One particular stick looked just like another slimy critter and I jumped back and began a swift retreat to avoid its deadly stick bite. In my haste to exit stage left I stumbled over a root and fell into a small creek that was alongside the weed bank. That called for a triple-syllable word. I’ll probably have to meet with the preacher after this episode. I sure wish that this escapade was not an accurate portrayal and I wish I wasn’t telling you this embarrassing truth but the Freedom of Information Act demands it.
With a wet, tired, frightened and thoroughly defeated body I departed the field of battle, got a drink from a different flask and called it a day. In the aftermath of this fiasco I reflected on the scorecard. It read something like this:
1) A large group of my core muscles were sore from falling in the creek bed
2) There was a bunch of junk in my eyes and nose from the flying debris and my lip was bleeding.
3) There was still a massive amount of grass still to be dealt with
4) The snakes and stick snakes were still alive and well in there
I’m gonna have to consider all these factors before going back out there but in the meantime the weeds are still growing and the jungle awaits.
It’s going to be a long summer.
(Author’s note: When the snake wrapped around my neck I had a flashback from long ago and that’s a story for another day. Maybe next week.)
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.