Last week after shaving a rather large sliver off a rock, my lawnmower quit and smoked. I gave it a minute, apologized then started it back up. The tell-tale sound of blade on metal clunked with the speed of a helicopter, but the pitch of damaged machinery.
I was almost finished mowing, so I called it a day and let the mower rest until Sunday. I put my work gloves on and rolled the injured thing out of the shed, flipped it over and had a look. I rotated the blade and saw where it was contacting metal. I beat the metal back until the blade was free to cut only grass. There was only minimal smoke when I fired it up, so I cut the grass without hesitation.
I was fairly proud of my resourcefulness and thought back to some of the top moments of ingenuity over the years. Not all of them were successful of course, because as casual citizens we often lack the vocational training needed to effectively solve specific problems. Sometimes though, brilliance flows without the help of an iPhone Google search.
I’ve used plastic containers from fly shops to hold my contact lenses while camping. I’ve opened bottles of wine with a screw, screw driver and a pair of pliers. The time I used a drill, the cork disintegrated into the bottle so I had to pour the wine through a coffee filter. Don’t let my class and sophistication intimidate you, I’m just an ordinary, sensitive guy who has opened more than one can of chili with a hatchet the past two summers.
I recalled earlier moments from before I became a California resident.
When building forts in the woods, I was the kid who thought more was better, and compulsively drove nails into whatever needed to stay in place. Most of the time it worked…some of the time.
My freshman year, when an elbow split my head open during a basketball game, coach’s wife tied the wound shut by using hair from both sides of the gash.
My buddy Justin cut three of his fingers to the bone during native carving class the year before that. He used duct tape instead of band-aids. He only got a mild infection – maybe he didn’t use enough dirt.
When my buddy Danny sliced himself with a gutting knife last summer, I cut one of the front pockets off my fishing shirt that hadn’t been washed in a few months. It had velcro on it that not only padded the wound, but helped keep consistent pressure on the injury.
My favorite engineering feat came in high school when my buddy Lars and I obtained an old seine net which we hung between spruce trees 30-feet above the ground. We trusted our knots until Lars jumped from the platform we built (I used 230 nails) above the net and threw down a nasty dunk into the hoop we had secured to another tree for games of full-contact 3-on-3 net basketball. When he landed, three ropes broke and Lars and I crashed to the forest floor. When air returned to our lungs, and we had checked for impalements, it was funny.
We proceeded to re-hang the net immediately. It would still be there today had someone not cut it down.
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