The Happy Whacker

This is David happily using his new super-duper weed-whacker.

See, we had a weed-whacker that we brought with us from Wyoming, but it was meant for stuff like, well, grass. Soft stuff. Not desert stuff. Desert stuff is all impenetrable woody stems and thorny exteriors. The plants guard their precious water stores by making it exceedingly difficult for anything to munch them. Turns out this also goes for being chopped down.

Now, I am not the one who thought the chopping needed to happen. I think this is one of those male/female things. Just as he doesn’t notice his bank statements sitting on the counter for weeks on end, I don’t look out over our property and say “Curses! Look at those bushes. It offends my eye to see them!”

(Okay, he might not have used that exact phrasing, but he did say that it bugged him to see it. He said this in a way that invited me to agree that I could barely sit on the patio for the irritation of seeing all those bushes just growing out there.)

He pulled out the trump card, though, by pointing out predators could use the overgrowth for easy cover to stalk the kitties.

I agreed something needed to be done and he happily settled in to research the ideal chopper-downer tool. Boy, did he find some. Did you know you can easily spend $2K on a big bushwhacker? Finally he picked out a bushwhacking lawnmower that was “only” $329. I balked. He mentioned predators again. I whined about the expense for something we use once a year. He agreed to look at attachments for the weed-whacker.

I’m a cruel, cruel woman.

Finally we went to Home Depot and perused the weed-whacking options. We found the ideal solution in this kind of cool Ryobi Brush Cutter. (You may not care that much, but for those who like to ogle power tools, and you know who you are, there it is.) It’s nice because it has a manly big blade that cuts through woody interlopers like butter. And you can get other attachments for it, which pleases me, for the next time we discover there’s some power tool missing from our lives, leaving a big black hole of aching despair.

He spend the rest of the long weekend happily trimming down the ugly shrubs and dead cholla.

It does look much better now.



So, our neighbor is mowing the desert.
Some people here do that. Mow the desert like it’s a lawn. They create this kind of short-grass expanse around their houses.
It’s bizarre and strange. Of course, we sold our lawn mower when we left Laramie, with the intention of never having a lawn, or a lawn-like substance again.
I think you can see the contrast in this picture — the tan flat stuff? Yeah.
He came over to introduce himself this weekend. He’s a builder, relocating to work with a buddy between Houston and Galveston. He was planning to mow it down, he said, as part of the house sale. The way it used to be, orginally. I assume that means when he bought it. I’m just hoping whoever buys the house has a different ethic.
The thing is, we know there’s green belt between our property line and his, but he seems to be mowing all the way up to ours. At least he seems to be showing no fits of overly-neighborliness by cleaning up our act as well. Mowing the greenbelt would be a violation of the covenants, but we’re new here. Doesn’t seem right to bitch in our first three weeks.
One of the most ironic bits to me is that some other neighbors of ours relocated here from the East Coast and, over drinks, he was waxing poetic about the Santa Fe landscape, how spiritual and old it is.
A lot of people here do this. I have not escaped the Western Myth.
“Right around the house, here,” he told us, “has been landscaped. But the rest hasn’t been touched for 5,000 years! I’m sensitive to that, walking only on my same paths. It’s such a spiritual thing, thinking about walking on land that is the same as it’s always been.”
I nodded at him, sipped my wine and refrained from pointing out that his pristine arroyo contains septic tanks for all the houses around. They didn’t grow there from septic-tank seeds. Though that would be a nifty invention.
The landscape grows up and recovers. The great Myth of the West is that it’s somehow preserved in this museum-worthy contaminant-free vacuum. It’s not. It’s been fixed up again. Witness our neighbor’s lot, recently made like it was originally.
Time will pass. The winter will come and the grasses regrow. Maybe no one will feel like messing with it next year.
Maybe a cholla will choke his lawnmower.