|photo from Wikipedia|
Another man nodded. "My dad had us kids out all summer, sproutin' on the hillsides. Wore me out, I can tell you. Those things are heavier than they look."
I smiled, remembering my early days on this ridge. I had a scythe too, one of those wood-handled beauties that could put some muscles on a girl's arms. I had to learn to swing it right-handed because that's how most of them were made, for a right-handed swing. The swing had to be perfected too--swooping down and through the grass or brush and continuing the arc right up to shoulder height or thereabouts. Stopping the swing short meant losing the power of the speed and the quick cut. It was similar, I suppose to splitting wood with an axe--you swing as if you mean to bury that axe in the ground right up to the handle. The scythe required the same kind of force.
A year or two later I bought an aluminum handled scythe with a short, tough brush blade. It worked so much better for the filth, as it was called--that messy weed/small shrub/vines combination that grows along banks and ditches. I remember one year when I was cutting a ditchline in front of the house, and got into a yellow jacket's nest. I made for the house at top speed, shedding clothes as fast as I could. Those bees got inside my bib overalls and were hard at work as I stripped down. My sons watched me dancing in amazement, sure that I had lost my mind. I'd never gotten into a nest before and I gained a healthy respect for yellow jackets, I can tell you.
|Young man sharpening a scythe, by Pekka Halonen 1891. From Wikipedia|
I still own a wood-handled scythe and even a replacement handle. I have one for sale, too, in my Marietta booth. I suppose men and maybe women of a certain age see it hanging there and recall the days when they were young and strong, swinging that heavy blade in a perfect arch on hot hillsides when life was simpler and a the swish of the scythe cleanly cutting grass was the only sound in the brilliant blueness of summer.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.