Me and My Chariot de Jardin or My Chariot and I


It’s summer.  While gardening, I rest frequently on my Planter’s Cart, also known as a Lawn Buddy.  But it can also be called a “Chariot de Jardin.” I prefer that name, just as I prefer gardening in the shade, since it’s now in the humid 90ties in Florida.

Upon my chariot, I contemplate weeds, lizards, the occasional black racer snake, green and blooming things, mulch that has formed a serious mat, and the last episode of Mad Men. Sometimes I think about those Selectric typewriters they use at Sterling, Cooper and Partners, and not with any fondness.  What ever else you say about Mad Men, it does make you remember, if you are old enough, the bad old days when things like typewriters actually existed. Not to mention wallpaper and girdles.


Back to the Lawn Chariot, which is really just four plastic wheels and a covered compartment to store my tools, which are important to me.  First, I could not live without Felco pruners, size 2.  As a friend once said to me, “They are better than a diamond.”  I also have a hori hori Japanese farmer’s knife, which is the sharpest tool in the box. My particular hori hori as you can see, is held together by duct tape, but that’s another story. I also have a lovely long digger from Harley Farms in Pescadero, California, given to me by my son and daughter-in-law.   There are several pair of gloves–you can never have enough  due to plants that are “armed” with thorns or spikes, some green twine, an old brass hose nozzle, and a thing that breaks up mulch mats that might be called a cultivator.  Oh, and one more trowel with a wide blade and another tool that looks lethal and is similar to the farmer’s knife, but with a hard blue plastic handle. Last, a weeder that’s slightly bent. Big weeds, here in Florida.

These are my  hand tools, and I obsessively check their whereabouts when I am gardening because I don’t want to leave them out in the elements.  When I was about five, I left some of my dad’s tools out in the yard and I got a spanking. The only one I every got from him, and I think that’s why I’m obsessive about my tools.

I wear a get-up to garden.  I am sure there are children in the neighborhood that are scared to approach me.  Big floppy, dirty hat ( I tried to wash it, but no) , a bandana headband underneath the hat, sunglasses, an old shirt, usually stained with various things like hair dye and plant juices, shorts, shoes with socks, due to fire ants, and my earbuds, the cord of which I put under my shirt. I put my nano in my back pocket. The cord goes inside my shirt, rather than out because I cut the cord to my previous ipod by mistake.

My nano makes sweating and gardening more entertaining.  Actually, it’s my second nano.  My first one I stored in my bra while gardening and it got wet, so I had to get another;  Apple was not sympathetic. It was sort of like being humiliated for tool disregard by your dad, only more expensive.

Shuffle is great.  I have whole operas and  songs with “explicit” lyrics.  Shuffle song choice is always a surprise, but I can’t fast forward during any tunes, because it would involve taking off my gloves and fishing around in my back pocket, extracting the nano, activating the screen and trying to see the skip-ahead triangle in the harsh Florida glare.  This is too much trouble, so I just have to lump it when Phil Ochs’ “Reheasals for Retirement” comes on, which is too often, due to the unknown nature of Shuffle, which is heavy on the Phil Ochs. It sometimes makes me sad because he’s dead.

Ah yes, The 1970ties.  Mad Men and singing troubadours. I think we had a stereo and real records.

I don’t know if the Chariot de Jardin was around in the 70ties, but it doesn’t matter.  I love mine. Remember, I’m the neighbor sitting on it, listening to Jay Z and Beyonce’s “Empire State of Mind.”  In Florida.