Battery Power

A Makita battery-powered grass-trimmer

I’m not much for gas tools. But I own an Echo SRM-225i grass trimmer that I bought a few years ago because it had an “easy start” pull cord. Compared to the previous machine I used, this one was a life-saver, preserving my upper body strength for the cutting, not the cranking of the engine.

Then my brother-in-law offered me a Makita battery-powered grass-trimmer, calling it an “extra” in his life that he didn’t need.

My brother-in-law is a low-power geek. He scrutinizes battery-powered tools, LED lights, solar power and energy efficiency, uncovering the latest, coolest, least carbon-generating gear Amazon Prime can deliver.

He was the one who suggested my wife get me a Makita battery-powered chainsaw, when I told him I couldn’t start up the gas-powered ones at the hardware store. The chainsaw, which she gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago, is a prized possession, capable of felling buckbrush, slicing dead tree limbs and shaping thorny hedges like nothing else I’ve ever owned.

I accepted the grass-trimmer gift with thanks, thinking I’d use it in an area where I didn’t want to send tiny rocks flying into windows.

Gosh, was I wrong.

My Summer of Weed-Whacking

Wildflowers outside of Nevada City, CA

I live on property that’s a little under four acres large, on the side of a hill, with lots of rock and serpentine soil. Little of substance grows other than manzanita trees, gray pines, buck brush and weeds. However, in the spring and into the summer, wildflowers populate the hillside like sprinkles of color against a backdrop of sage green and golden brown. And the flowers arrive in waves — yellows, then oranges and reds, blues and whites and then yellows again.

My dog Kipper and I have walked a loop around the house, which is situated on the upper end of our place. We have been doing it for so long, the path can seen on Google Maps.

But even there, where the ground is worn down to the dirt, small stickly weeds pop up, leaving tiny bubbles of burrs that adhere to Kipper’s fur and my shoes and socks. When we return to the house, we have to pick at these before going in, and if I forget to put on gloves, they leave minuscule slivers that poke at me while working until I resign myself to going downstairs and retrieving the sliver tweezers to remove them.

So it only makes sense that these are the first pests to attack in my summer-time plan. With my gym off-limits during the pandemic (my wife works for public health, and there’s no way she’ll let me go back right now) and reduced pay for almost everybody in my company (a result of a depressed economic climate), I decide not to go my usual route — hiring somebody else to do the weed eating. I’ll get my workouts by handling it myself.

This has become my summer of weed-whacking.