Monday, September 7, 2009

Between the Stump and the hard place...

Things grow fast in the south. I mow the lawn once a week and sometimes twice. The vines and trees can get out of control. With a big pruner I can cut off the suckers and vines, but sometimes I miss a few and they end up growing into bushes. Cut them down and that leaves a stump. Some of these stumps are small, and some are big.

For the last two weeks I've been working on my yard, trying to get these stumps out of the ground. I won't go into the story (too much) of the new lawn mower, but I will point out that those little stumps left over from the small suckers and trees you cut down can jump up out of the ground and attack your defenseless mower when you least expect it. One of them did jump up and killed my old trusty lawn mower. That's when I went on a rampage taking out the little stumps. (Visualize Rambo with a pith helmet.)

I felt kinda like Superman when the first two stumps popped out of the ground the first weekend. They came out of the ground like I was harvesting carrots! Then I went after my nemesis: Big Stumpy. Big Stumpy is a conglomeration of sucker stumps and god-knows-what that have grown together over time and I finally just lopped it off at near ground level to get rid of the thing. What I was left with is a troll like massive ugly stump that can only be called "Big Stumpy". Ok, I'm making light, but this thing is about 24 inches across at the widest point and still had little green shoots coming out of it every so often. Big Stumpy wasn't hidden in the grass like the little ones so there is no chance he was going to kill any of my fossil fuel powered friends, but once I got started (and over zealous) I knew it would be a fight to remember. Like the Rumble in the Jungle, this would be known as Brawn on the Lawn....ok, stop giggling and we can move on...

Big Stumpy

Stumpy gave me quite a battle I have to say that. When L'il Stumpy killed the lawn mower and I bought a new one, I also picked up a Mattock, also known by some as a 'Pick-axe'. With a heavy head and a hickory handle, it's one of those things which can almost change your DNA to SUTHUN as you carry it out of the store. Testosterone covered the handle as I brought it out the first time. The Mattock is what helped me to kill the two little stumps and I was sure that it would serve me well in my efforts with Big Stumpy.

The first skirmish with Big Stumpy was a a draw. I dug a bunch of dirt out from around it, and sweated a lot into the 90 degree weather. Big Stumpy squatted in his big hole and stayed solid. The following weekend, I was out there again, determined to make a dent of some kind. This is where Big Stumpy showed me his toughest side. He broke the Mattock. I heard it snap, and I couldn't' believe it. I nearly shed a tear. I mean it's not like Hickory grows on trees, I mean...uh...well, ok so it does.

I went to the store and picked up a new Mattock., but not another of the standard with the hickory handle. THIS ONE has an unbreakable polycarbonate handle with a lifetime guarantee. Big Stumpy was quivering in his big hole when I hauled the tool out of the back of the Jeep. I squared my cap on my head, snugged my gloves on and waded in.

Right away, I found out that Big Stumpy had a hidden partner. "Rocky." Buried right there beside the stump was a rock easily as big as the stump itself and was the main reason that Stumpy had so easily resisted my efforts to break him. The mattock broke off a piece of it, but it was the unbreakable polycarbonate handle that allowed me to lever the big grey beast out of the ground. With Rocky out of the way, Big Stumpy didn't have a chance. In only minutes I had him laying on the ground beside the big hole screaming for mercy. He got none.

Dead Stumpy and Rocky

The only bad part to this is that none of my Suthun neighbors was around to see my victory. I carried Dead Stumpy out to the wood pile as a big SUV drove by - someone I didn't know - but he saw the stump and saw my victory. He did exactly what I'd expect from a fellow Suthunah...He nodded. I nodded back.

I tossed Dead Stumpy in the woodpile. Later, I set Rocky in the garden. The Mattock with the polycarbonate handle hangs in the place of honor in the tool shed.

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