Sunday, June 04, 2006

Inner Gardener Update. This is the second weekend of my getting in touch. More high tech highlights to report.

I discovered a great lawnmower shop on 79th Street near Biscayne Boulevard, Joe Blair Garden Supplies, Inc. Miami folks will recall the location as the heart of what has become "Little Haiti". The Haitians definitely upgraded the neighborhood, in my view at least, when they began moving in 20+ years ago. Before then it had become a prostitute ridden, dangerous place. (When Macon was first born, we bought baby furniture from a store in that district. The store, "Holland's Babyland", had been there for a generation. The proprietor, a stubborn man who was a member of Central Baptist Church, had refused to move out. He was murdered in that store a few years after we shopped with him.)

I found the lawnmower shop on the internet, and I called yesterday morning (a Saturday) to see how late they would be open and to discuss my need for an edger. A lawn edger, in my experience, is a thing almost as big as a lawn mower, with a pretty serious Briggs & Stratton engine and at least three wheels. You walk behind the thing, and its perpendicular blade, spinning like crazy, throws dirt, rocks and grass out in front, about a half a block. It makes a great little ditch next to the sidewalk, giving all sorts of satisfaction that males need.

Anyway, I had not seen one of these things at Home Depot, so I decided to call around and see where I could find one. Dave Blair took my call and said that homeowners were really not buying them anymore, and that they were only being bought when you had miles and miles of sidewalk to edge. Instead, he suggested I look at a two-cycled engine sort of thing that is like a weed-eater, except it has an edger device on the bottom with a single little wheel. Actually, it sounded a little effete to me, but Dave was so thorough and impressive on the phone, that I went up to 79th Street to see the place.

Wow. This place was something. I think every professional yard man in North Dade was in an out of there during my visit. There was not only Dave, but also his sons (who are in the photo on the website) and a bunch of other people who worked there. They had a huge inventory - mainly directed at the pros - and a big maintenance section. Dave is about my age and told me that the shop was on its third generation of family ownership (he was in the second). He went to North Miami High, graduating three years after I graduated from Hialeah. He treated me as if I was the only guy in the store, in between greeting people by name as they walked by. (Note: the "professional yard man" in Dade County tends to be either black or brown. Dave is anglo.)

Dave sold me my edger in two pieces. (Its a Stihl product) The first piece is the engine, the second piece was the attachment for the edger. You can take the edger attachment off and use several other accessories: a weed-eater, a chain saw, a blower. Amazing. (I just got the edger.) But it was a 2 cycle engine. Those things don't have a good history with me. (I can't get the darn things ever to start). Here more progress has obviously been made. Dave put the pieces together for me, added some fuel, took me outside and we cranked it right up.

But would this relatively light contraption still enable me to throw rocks, dirt and grass a half a block or more ahead of me as I walked down the sidewalk? And would we have a nice, deep, black ditch running along the sidewalk? Yes! I am happy to say. Yes!

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