Every family has treasures passed down from generation to generation. In my family, we had a blue edger, the kind you had to start by pouring gas in the carburetor after years of wear and tear. She had cleared the sidewalks at four different homes over sixty years and still launched dirt clods twenty feet in the air if you revved it up by pulling the lever by hand, as the cable was long detached. It was a sight to behold.
On a farm, it saw little use with a gravel driveway until the magical day we decided to install invisible fence for the dogs. Happily, I brought out the trusty machine, put in fresh gas and fired her up to dig a trench. With a grin, I forged around the perimeter of the backyard. I’d gone about 200 yards, further than I imagine it had ever been pushed before, dirt slinging up in a cloud of glory, when the unthinkable happened.
Fire burst from the top of the engine. Not the family heirloom edger! I immediately stooped over to blow out the flames. In about 1 second, two years of physics classes and general knowledge about combustion engines combined in my brain to warn me to get back. And quickly. About then I heard my wife using new terms of endearment such as idiot, giving suggestions like “get the hell out of my way.”
With a tear in my eye, I watched as she doused the machine with a fire extinguisher, white powder coating the antique form. After a bit a chastisement at my stupidity, she indicated she was glad the thing hadn’t exploded. And with a straight face, I asked if she had any ideas of how to get the stuff off so I could start her back up. This was met with an ugly look. Alas, we no longer have a family heirloom edger, instead a gawdy plastic machine waits in the garage. And trust me, no one else would want it.