Bad weather, sling blades and politics don't mix

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By Bill Evans

Guess what? It snowed this week. It rained, too.

Just a few weeks ago, you were moping your weary brow and gnashing your teeth while wishing for a little cooler weather.

Are you happy now? Not me.

You know, I don't really care much for icy, cold winter weather. I'd just as soon have the hardwood leaves remain green and attached to the trees year-round.

But sitting around watching the newscasts inside a warm house made me do a little thinking.

Those of us who have managed to hang on for a number of winters have seen great strides in home heating.

For the most part, the days of chopping and stacking cords of firewood gave way to coal scuttles. Coal was eventually replaced by pouring kerosene into a tank on the back of an oil heater.

The next improvement was a wonderful floor furnace in the middle of the house that got its No.2 fuel oil from a large underground or outside tank.

Then there was the ultimate and greatest convenience – central heat and air conditioning units.

Bless Pete, that meant no more cold floors to walk across on winter nights and no more scorching our bare feet on a floor furnace grate on the way to the bathroom.

Come to think of it, air conditioning made it comfortable even when you were buried under the bed covers on hot, muggy nights listening for those ever-present boogers.

Yes sir, that's high living.

A few years back, my son suggested that I upgrade our heating system from an oil furnace to a gas pack.

That way, he said, I wouldn't have to worry about running out of oil during the coldest weather and have to buy a tankful of oil at one time.

Since a gas line would be piped into the house, we'd only have to pay for what we were using.

You know, my son forgot to mention that natural gas prices would start soaring like a kite in a March windstorm.

I don't think I'm quite up to chopping firewood, hauling it in the house and carrying out ashes anymore, so these days, we usually grab an old sweater and throw on a quilt when the mercury drops, rather than cut up the heat.

My goodness – come to think of it – that's exactly what we did when I was growing up in a drafty house on Chesterfield.

That just goes to show some things don't go out of style. I guess all of our great home heating strides have evaporated into the high cost of living.

I kinda feel like one of the flip-flopping, mind-changing politicians who are invading our state right now for support.

Cold weather wasn't great, but warm days had a down side, too.

Our old rotary lawn mower had blades that had to be sharpened by hand and the wheel bearings that made those blades turn had to be constantly oiled. I don't ever recall running over a rock and damaging the blade, either. To me, the worst lawn care invention of all time was a sling blade.

No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't manage to get the operation of a sling blade down pat.

Usually, I used it like a hoe and chopped away at the thick undergrowth.

However, some things – like old-fashioned hedge clippers – can't be improved on. I still prefer them to that two-cycle gas hedge trimmer contraption. It's too heavy to operate and doesn't trim real good, anyway.

My most favorite yard machine these days is the leaf blower which I use on the driveways and walkways. It's much easier than the old back-breaking, long-handled push broom I once used.

Have you noticed that folks who live on postage stamp sized lots in fancy subdivisions are always the ones who write letters to newspapers griping about an insensitive neighbor who wakes them up at 10 a.m. on Sunday with noisy leaf blower or affect their concentration while they are standing in a golf course tee box?

Luckily, my neighbors haven't raised a fuss about my leaf blower yet. My children live on one side of us and there's a cemetery on the other side. If they complain, I guess it really is loud.

These days, most of my summer yard work consists of mowing grass and wild onions.

However, collecting fast food wrappers and long neck beer bottles which just magically show up along the sidewalk that borders our front yard like manna from heaven has become an every day affair.

That's one of the reasons I'm ready for it to turn warm again.

Bless their hearts – the only thing I can figure is that the motorists who pass by our Taylor's Grove home are aiming for the convenience site up by the race track, but keep missing.

But, hey, it gives me an opportunity to do my part to keep our highways and byways of South Carolina litter free.

See, I told you I was sounding like a politician.