The signs are mushrooming all over Itchy Ankle: LAWN TOOL FOUND. This information is followed by a phone number. The signs are neat T shapes that stand 6 inches above the dirt. They have white backgrounds with thick black lettering on sturdy 4×1/2 inch planks. These have been made with care and positioned on corners and junctions over a span of many miles. I find it disconcerting.
First of all, if you found a tool–say an edger, a hoe or a pair of shears–wouldn’t you prop it against a telephone pole and hope it and its owner might reunite before the convolvulus cloaked it forever? Mightn’t you take it home and add it to the wigwam of garden weaponry in your own back shed? Perhaps you’d tut and say “someone will have an eye out with that” before poking the blade into the boggy earth or a convenient conifer for safety’s sake. Would you really stop by the roadside, rescue the implement, take it home, make signs, place those signs, and stay home to answer the phone just because someone and their lawn tool had been split asunder?
Let us also consider the odd idea of a lawn tool. Now, that’s specific. Much more specific than a garden tool which might include spades, wheelbarrows, hedge trimmers and such like. What could a lawn tool be? A lawn aerator–a spike on a stick? A rake–several spikes on a stick? A strimmer? One of those little drums on wheels that dispenses miraclegro? Don’t try to tell me that someone lost a mower. You’d notice that falling out of sight when you looked in the rear view mirror, and you’d definitely hear the clunk, rattle and rasp as it fell from from your flatbed gate.
The finder obviously wants the lawn tool’s careless owner to know that a call to him (and it is surely a him) will not be in vain. No fear of following up on a wishy washy promise of OUTDOOR IMPLEMENTS AVAILABLE only to discover that you are tracking a trowel instead of a tractor. No risk of ringing a number that promises GARDEN ITEMS RECOVERED and finding only a seamstress surrounded by Sunbrella and the skeletons of several fold up chairs. No, lawn tool finder is speaking direct to the luckless loser, urging each of us who own sward accessories to doublecheck our numbers and be sure that all are safely gathered in. Further, he wants the loser to phone him–not that he will hand over the mislaid item without in depth questioning.
“I’m calling about the lawn tool. I lost it somewhere between Muddy Creek Road and the Swamp Circle Saloon”
“What color is it?”
“Can you be more specific?”
“It has a number of spikes and a handle”
“It’s warm to the touch and smells of sweat and if you use it too long you’ll get a callus…”
“Son, I’m going to need something a little more specific. Bring me your fingerprints and I’ll gladly match them with some I lifted from the item I have in safe keeping”
I am sure it is annoying to arrive home after a hard day’s weed whacking to discover that your magic claw, scythe or strimmer has mysteriously disappeared. I can see that, if you make your living on the land, you might doubleback to see if the missing item could be found lying in a ditch or stuck in a hedge. But going back day after day to search for, phoning to identify, driving to pick up a lost lawn tool that probably retails for under $30? Would you, would you really?
I wish I knew what it was. Perhaps I’ll phone and find out.