The trowel bent in my hand; I was afraid it might. There was one last year that did the same thing. Thinking it a piece of junk, I pitched it aside. The trowel I used for years is lost somewhere in this garden, probably green bushes grew large over it or the ivy buried it. It was strong, like a little spade. There is a penknife of Ted’s around here someplace too, and a silver fork I was using to separate the tiniest seedlings. (Things do turn up, though, Just found clippers lost months ago, hanging on a trellis). Why don’t the useless things get lost?
If I’m not careful I’ll be sounding like my dad who would say from time to time, “nothing is the same . . . the movies, the food, the weather — nothing. The water used to taste better (probably a fact), and chickens tasted like chicken. Bourbon whiskey came in for its share of criticism: “Don’t you believe that Jack Daniels label, they don’t make it the way they used to.” I don’t know how he would know such a thing, but he probably did; his advertising company handled accounts like that.
Once I was telling him about riding the subway in Boston for 50 cents and he said, “Why, I used to go into New York barefoot and get a fish sandwich and a pickle for 10 cents . . . down in the Bowery . . . with a hard-boiled egg too.” Then, getting started, “and I’d ride the Staten Island ferry for a nickel, and had a hot dog for free!” And then, more recently, “Look at that spade! they don’t make ‘em that way now; probably cost my daddy a couple dollars . . . it’ll be here when I’m gone.”
And it is. The handle and shaft worn smooth and lustrous, like a piece of furniture. My son has his hammer and a couple of other tools. His pliers are in my kitchen drawer and two of the rulers from his early days as a draftsman are on my desk. I do sound like my Dad. He’s right, nothing stays the same. Some things are better. Some are worse.
And I’m off to the hardware store. This will be the third trowel in three years. I probably ought to spend a little more money on it.
Jeanne Hewett is a freelance writer who lives in Vineyard Haven. th j the watersay