Before: I confess to a generalized and personally exasperating discomfort with power equipment. Lawnmowers, electric drills: I’m okay. Chain saws, table saws: not so much. So today’s date with a Maxim Chain Drive Extra Heavy Duty 5.5 HP front tine tiller to turn up the front flower bed is a little outside my comfort zone, but that’s the point.
I’ve seen it. It is red and muscular in a metallic sort of way. I’ve been warned my primary task will be to restrain it, keep it from going forward too fast, finding the balance between momentum and depth. I am imagining forming a cautious partnership, dubbing it Attila and emerging sweaty and victorious by nightfall, all toes still intact.
After: I was right about the Attila part.
D. likened it to a rodeo: if you could hold on, it was a helluva ride. This was no precision instrument. It had a preternatural predilection to pull left that, while eventually predictable, was nonetheless disconcerting. The resulting bed is a good deal bigger than intended. Attila seemed to want it that way.
After my inaugural run, D. took a try. “Not to take anything away from your eggsiness,” he said, “But I’m not sure you can really manage this thing.” I didn’t argue — it was a lot of machine. Relieved, I realized my unease wasn’t about fear, it was a frank and fair assessment of my physical capacity. No hit to the eggsy ego.
We learned to use our legs, sink deep and put our backs into it. My hands gave out before my shoulders or legs. In the end, D. did most of the tilling.
Now: All toes in tact. Garden tilled; compost, humus and manure well mixed; rocks thinned, anyway. I didn’t master the machine in the way I had fantasized but the limits I hit were real, not imagined. I count it a success.
Attila is resting by the driveway, awaiting retrieval. Ready for the next rodeo, no doubt.