Regional tools


This story starts where most of my stories begin… a combination of procrastination and observation.

I had been talking to Richard on the phone in the early afternoon. You might remember Richard… good friend… part of several travel posts (and books)… moved with Ellen to Florida several years ago.

A short time after we had wrapped up the call, I was puttering around the garage. I should have been writing or possibly prepping dinner or something else of equal importance, but none of those options seemed half as inviting as pretending to accomplish something in the garage and then walking around the yard.

While moving a few things from one place to another, only to move most of them back, I came across some of the tools Richard had given to Terry and I before his move. Some snow shovels, a ladder and such. Things that he either didn’t need in Florida, couldn’t get to Florida, or wouldn’t be using in the house they had purchased.

The mind began adding some floating thoughts and random ideas to its operating space, with none of them really catching and sparking coherent thoughts. Then I stepped outside.

While there is a comfortable distance between us and our neighbors, there isn’t much between our yards. No overgrowth of shrubs or bushes or trees. It’s a bit of a change in this house when you understand that Terry and I had been dealing with hundreds of oaks and maples and more in previous homes. Today though… I spotted the snow fence near the deck in their backyard. And with that sight, all of the detached thoughts suddenly tached.

(We could follow the tangent here and begin some sort of silly debate about detached and attached and some defense for the word such as tached that ultimately will make no sense. It was offered in humor. A joke. Deal with it and understand a bunch of assorted concepts came crashing together when I spotted their snow fence.)

Every once in a while, such as today’s moments finally sparked, I think about the stuff I have in my house that I might not need if I lived in a different part of the country. Winter jackets and tools for handling the snow come to mind most frequently. But on this particular afternoon, it was snow fences and ladders that got the thoughts moving along.

A north-south discussion is usually the main theme in any discussion about needs for houses that differ in location. And frankly, that is the easiest to visualize and consider. And yes, weather (and temperatures) plays a big part in such a debate.

Pick the right spot to settle in and you could be gardening year-round. (Which isn’t nearly as funny a thought if you aren’t aware of Boston’s snow pile in 2015. When clearing snow during that winter, they had some places where it was stacked and stored. In one place, the last of the snow finally melted in mid-July. Yup. July. There used to be a joke told by those of us living in Syracuse, New York. Basic version was that Syracuse had two seasons each year, winter and July 4th. You may like sun and palm trees… you may like snow and sleds… weather matters.)

What about how you live? Kind of a commentary on where you live as much as how. Pick a condominium with a tenant association of some type and the grounds may be maintained for you. Same deal living in a major city. No lawn mower… no wheelbarrow… no rake needed.

Other considerations can be the surroundings and house design.

If you need to clean the gutters on a roof higher than one level, you probably need an extension ladder. 24-plus-feet of teetering thrills that brings a new set of emotions to watching the leaves change colors (and then fall).

Do you use wood stoves to heat or enjoy your fireplace? A supply of trees, a good axe, and perhaps a chainsaw should be added to your homeowner’s wish list.

And a chainsaw offers me a chance to circle back to the start. This run of thoughts began with a debate about tools that are specific to where I live. And by that, I find that more often than not I am thinking of external factors such as wind, snow, and so on. It isn’t always about a need for hedge trimmers and driveway sealant, though occasionally those tasks do create some swearing and increase the desire to relocate. Still… perhaps it’s more than tools…

One thing we haven’t considered is critters. Have you ever been concerned about what the skunks and bears might be attracted by? Or, where they might find a nice little nesting spot… say under or shed or a deck? If I moved to Florida and was looking at houses, I’m not certain any property feature appealing to an alligator or a crocodile would be as appealing to me once I figured out what visitors might be dropping in.

Back to the tools.

I have a snow fence in my shed. In a few weeks I’ll break out some posts and a few assorted tools, and begin the process of setting that in place. I have shovels and ladders and wheelbarrows and rakes and mowers and more. I’m prepared for snow and grass and a long list of projects. And as I always have in my homes, I’ve set up my basement with thoughts about minimizing troubles should we need to deal with water. Move from the northeast to Florida… less chances of snow and usually no basement… some of those tools no longer necessary.

I know of people that have built portions of their homes specifically to deal with tornados. I have friends with plywood stored in their garage… already sized and prepared to be quickly utilized in protecting the house from an approaching hurricane. And there are plenty of folks that know the power will be lost on a regular basis for one reason or several, and have generators at the ready for when the lights go out.

Most of these tools and thoughts and preparations tend to be devised around extremes. They are not necessarily for everyday dilemmas and challenges and chores. Scenarios such as the changing seasons or the design of the house also create particular issues. Even the desires and preferences of the homeowner can set up something different in my yard as compared to my neighbor.

There are days when I need to consider what I might wear. Is it cold? Raining? Will I be indoors or outside? And like today, there are moments when I find myself wondering what I would take along with me if I moved. Would I need the rototiller? Will I have a place for the Christmas decorations that I will soon be setting up across our front yard?

For now, I need to finish mowing my lawn. As it happens, I have just the tools for that job. In the end, I’m happy with that.


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