Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Woodland Gardening

One of the points of It's Not You. It's the Dishes (from my 2012 list) is that relationships develop a division of responsibilities, and that, although both sides fully understand their roles and responsibilities, the tasks are never themselves discussed, nor is the possibility that the other might, at some time, do the work in question ever acknowledged, though each quietly wonders to him or herself as s/he is doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, folding laundry, whatever: "How come s/he never does this?"

We have many of these in our household, but in one area, the division of labor has been somewhat negotiated. In our yard, whose theme we have agreed on is "woodland garden," Worldwide cuts the grass. Despite my history and broad experience with the lawn mowing profession, I do not do this. It's not that I mind--I don't--it's just that I don't believe that mowing is suitable activity for a woodland garden, and that, given the environmental cost of firing up your lawn mower, that this is a task to be avoided if at all possible. "Cut it high and let it lie" exhorted the left wing city managers in Olympia. Amen, say I. Get out of my way says Worldwide, as she fires up the mower.

But I am responsible for taking the mower to get repaired when it breaks down, which it does at least once a year. The main culprit seems to be gas left in the tank, which turns to varnish and gums up the carburetor, although the many large stones in our yard have also vehemently disagreed with the mower on several occasions as well.

So as our thoughts turn to Spring, and the mower failed to start for Worldwide, and I am the only one in our family capable of lifting it into the minivan, she asked me to bring it in for repair, which I did today.

Thankfully I am not at all emasculated by the idea of another man fixing my stuff, so when the guy at Home Depot was taking the mower's medical history, I mentioned that he had also fixed it last year, by "cleaning the fuel lines or something,"

"Let me try something first," he said. He removed the air filter and dabbed the carburetor with a cloth soaked in gasoline. The mower started right up, and he explained that just getting it to spark could sometimes be enough to ignite and clean out the bad gas from the carburetor. I asked him to show me what he did, so that I could do it myself next time.

"It's not a recommended procedure," he told me. "Your cloth might catch on fire."

I can't wait to try it next Spring, unless Worldwide remembers to run the mower out of gas before it goes into storage for the winter. It could happen.


  1. There's this spray called "starting fluid" which you can spray into the carburetor and basically does the same thing. WD-40 works in a pinch. You just need to get some fumes in there that will ignite. I've never seen it done with a cloth before, but it makes sense.