boiled linseed oil, fall, garden, hoe, lopper, maintenance, Premium Ground Cover, pruner, repair, shovel, tools
My Dear Aunt contracted polio when she was 11. She ran home from school one day, then never ran again. Unmarried until she was in her thirties and with no children of her own, she was a constant presence in the lives of her nieces and nephews.
She took us to church, community events, swimming at the lake, and to the farm, where she lived with our grandparents. She was enormous fun, but strict. She walked with a cane and said she couldn’t chase us, so she expected us to listen.
Whether she had one of us with her or five or six, we cousins knew that our time with her would include playing outside, board and card games, music and stories. We played rainy day games like Itty Bitty Bye… About So High, Button Button – Who’s Got the Button, and another game we called Comesy Come:
“Comesy Come.” “What do you come by?” “I come by silver.” “Is it the little knob on the radio over there?” “No. Guess again.”
She pounded out songs on the piano as we all marched around belting, “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and other merry tunes. When the time came for chores – and there were always chores – she made the job a game, singing the role of Mary Poppins as we filled the woodbox and swept and dusted.
It seems natural that I remember her as I consider the task before me. My garden tools, some still covered with dried mud from their last wet day in the garden, need to be cleaned and put away. This important maintenance would have been enjoyable on a warm fall day. Now it’s cold, really cold, and this will be a messy inside job. Where’s the element of fun in that?
I’ve always had some basic principles concerning my tools: Buy the best tools I can afford. Use the correct tool for the job. Keep tools reasonably clean and in good repair. All tools belong inside at night and never stay outside in the rain.
A wire brush will remove the dirt from the metal surfaces, and I’ll use steel wool to scour away any rust. I’ll sharpen tools with cutting edges, including hoes and shovels, and lubricate the moving parts of pruners and loppers. Boiled linseed oil applied to the metal parts will help to prevent rust. Wooden handles will be wiped well, and I’ll smooth rough areas with sandpaper before rubbing them with boiled linseed oil.
These tools are my companions during long days in the gardens. The pleasure of giving them the good care they deserve is the only spoonful of sugar I need to get the job done. Next fall, however, I resolve to finish cleaning my tools before I turn off the water and put the hose away. Won’t that be sweet!
Galloping Horse Garden said:
We played “Button, button, who’s got the button” also! I had no idea that it was a universal game – somehow I thought my family invented it! As for the tools, I tend to leave them out in the rain, lose them, and generally abuse them. I, too, must do better.
I really do value my tools. You wouldn’t know that from the photos, however. I just ran out of time (Bad excuse!), then there were Thanksgiving events, then Christmas, then sub-zero weather…
So nice to hear about your “dear aunt” – I’ve been told that aunts are pretty awesome people!
I believe you set the standard for “Dear Aunt”!
Love your thoughts… what precious gems of life your dear Aunt placed in your heart. I share the same thoughts about my garden tools… but your words say it best!
She certainly believed in choosing an attitude- that life could be a whole lot of work or a whole lot of fun!
What precious memories you have of your dear aunt. And it sounds like she was an excellent influence on you in many ways!
She certainly was a strong woman with a great imagination for getting things done.
The Gardening Shoe said:
What a lovely Aunt – that smile would light up a room.
Start singing “Do your ears hang low” and the task will be done in no time at all!
It’s sad to think that there are people who don’t know such a fine song!
Curbstone Valley Farm said:
I admit to being less than diligent about the care of my tools, so I’m very impressed! I know my grandfather would be rolling his eyes if he could see the state of my trenching shovel at the moment. It is interesting how our experiences as children stick with us, and how our thoughts flash back to lessons learned. Your story reminded me of my grandfather cleaning and storing his shovels, forks, and pruners at the end of the season. Back then, once cleaned up, he’d stand them in a big bucket filled with sand, and motor oil, to prevent the tools from getting dull, and rusting. I always thought that was quite clever. Of course we know better today, and wouldn’t use motor oil. Although I have wondered if olive oil might do the trick too!
The olive oil would probably turn quite rancid before long, but I’m not sure that would matter at all. Boiled linseed oil in the sand would work. I’m going to try that next season. If the dirt doesn’t cling as much to well oiled tools, they certainly will be easier to clean.