Our bodies are weak and puny, and that is why humans, since the beginnings of our self-consciousness, I think, have been fascinated with animals and their wondrous powers. Their claws, talons, beaks, antlers, wings, hooves, eyes, noses, fins, tails, etc. are awesome tools given them by nature and their powers of flight, sight, agility, scent, stamina, etc. are often dimensions beyond ours. As science has advanced and technology has given us some of these animal powers, it seems to me, rather lamentably, that our race has lost its once open-eyed awe at the creatures, but that doesn’t mean we now fully sense those amazing powers in ourselves. As a gardener, for example, even an hour’s work in the soil may result in dried and cracked finger tips the next day, which, in some cases, prevents me from performing basic acts like zipping my sweatshirt’s zipper. That’s some major weakness right there.
Though we may have lost our sense of the numinous power of animals, I don’t think we’ve given up on projecting our wishes to be stronger and generally more able onto something else, and that something else is superheroes. Since losing our full reverence for the animals, we’ve transferred our wish for greater power to other humans endowed with special gifts – super humans. As proof one need look no further than the box office, where superheroes make a killing fulfilling people’s wishes to see themselves as greater than they are. From this general observation, there is also a gardener’s corollary. If as a gardener I could gain resiliency, power, and heightened abilities, I could have the garden that I always claim will be next year’s garden….but I could have it NOW. If, for example, I had Thor’s magic hammer, then I could drive fence posts all day long and still be ready to hit the town all night long, instead of collapsing into bed after dinner from the fatigue of the work. If I got angry at woodchucks eating my crops and could morph into the Hulk, I could probably tear up the soil to such an extent that I could follow their tunnels, allowing me to hunt them down and fling them for miles when I caught them. And when weeding…what if I had the hands of the Wolverine when I walked out toward a row of carrots choked with crabgrass? Damage would be done, though it would probably include some cut up carrots, at least until I got those blade hands to perform accurately for me. Then, watch out crabgrass!
With the current superhero film craze, our fantasy ends when the lights come up in the theater, but this summer I have realized the gardener’s dream of possessing extraordinary powers with the discover of a simple, inexpensive tool designed not for the garden but for carpets and linoleum cutting. It is the simple carpet knife, a wickedly sharp, talon-like blade set into a fat, easily-grippable wooden handle.
I purchased one new for about $3.00 when I needed to take some bark off a cedar pole, but I soon got to wondering if the thing would do duty in the garden, and did it ever. This beast is ideal for getting right to the heart of a thick, tangled knot of weeds so dense they make Rastafarians look like they’ve had their hair straightened. I go into a weed patch flashing my blade and – slash, slash, slash – a few minutes later I’m out and the weeds are lying helter-skelter, totally helpless, gasping for their last breath. It’s an amazing feeling, and I now realize the kind of ego boost that someone like Captain America or Iron Man gets when he kicks the you-know-what out of a pack of villains.
I have generally been using one carpet knife at a time, but with this giddy sense of the expansion of my powers you may forgive me the following fantasy: