“It corners like a greased snake.”
“Takes hills and bumps like they’re invisible.”
“Grips like your best friend’s hug.”
Guess what I’m talking about? My wheelbarrow. Seriously! I never bothered about wheelbarrows much. I mean, who really bothers about wheelbarrows? I always had one. Often a hand-me-down, the one left by the previous tenants or owners of wherever I happened to be living. But then we moved to a place with a bit more land and the old wheelbarrow was seriously rusted. Actually it was more holes than barrow, and after one use it collapsed. So off I went to the local agricultural supply place for a brand new one. My first ever brand new wheelbarrow.
I had no idea there even a choice. Thankfully it wasn’t a huge place, but there were orange plastic wheelbarrows, rugged black farmyardy wheelbarrows, reinforced wheelbarrows strong enough to take a load of cement or concrete, and more. What did I need? Something in the middle, I thought. Something that was strong enough to carry a load of soil and rubble, something light enough that a fit 5-foot-four-inch female could manage, but a six-foot-two male wouldn’t find too small. Something large enough to cart endless grass cuttings in, and piles of aquatic weed hauled from my ditches.
I didn’t want the cheapest; I didn’t want the most expensive. I took the largish galvanised garden barrow that was suggested to me and drove home.
Then I went out to do some ‘gardening’. (At this point, calling our muddy patch of used-to-be grazing land a garden was like calling bubble-and-squeak a stir-fry).
My brand new wheelbarrow was amazing. I hadn’t expected anything as mundane as a wheelbarrow could rouse emotion. But where pushing my barrow across our land had been like shoving a hippo across a tennis court, my new barrow inspired me to run, to skip, to hop. It was so easy! I’d finished tidying up the piles of garden mess in no time and was dashing about like an excited pixie looking for more stuff to wheel. I trimmed the trees and stared a bonfire pile; I pulled up weeds and fed the compost heap; I cleaned out the ducks. Whoopee!
We’ve owned our wheelbarrow now for more than ten years, we’ve loved it and cared for it (mostly) and it’s still going strong. It saw us through our days at our three-quarter-acre plot. It served us well in our seaside suburb with hilly garden and fruit trees. When we moved to a place that had been owned by an old lady who had let the trees and bushes pretty much shut her in front, back and sides, it saw a lot of good use too.
I’ll never forget how excited I was the day we got it. How I rushed indoors demanding my husband come out and give it a go. How it transformed my gardening experience. Who would have thought that simply getting a really good wheelbarrow would give me a life-long memory!