14 April 2018

Destiny's Fork

A Fork in our Path
After 25 years of daily use, I suppose it's inevitable. Entropy takes its toll. My much-loved and trusted Garden Fork finally reached it's End of Life. Tines worn to a barefoot-hazardly needle-sharpness from use, the wooden hand-grip finally splintered into three and fell to the Earth. I'd try and repair it, but even the metal bits are rusted to the point where they're likely to part ways with the rest of the implement at any moment. 

It was a blow, I can tell you, but worse shocks lay in wait... 

Searching around for a new garden fork, I was confronted with the nastiest exemplars of ironmongrel crapware imaginable. Worst of all, nowhere in the country could I find a fork with a wooden hand-grip. Any regular user of garden implements will testify that a wooden grip is infinitely superior to those molded-in-China bits of plastic trash that adorn the cheaper tools -- and that means pretty-well all garden tools available in South Africa. Here, where labour is cheap and most people hire a day-labourer to perform the heavier gardening tasks, price takes overriding precedence and the quality of the tool considered irrelevant. A wooden grip is soft, forgiving in the hand. It provides texture and assurance in the gardener's sweaty, soil-filmed hand in a way that plastic never can.

Certified Crapmongery
After much effort and travail I managed to obtain the only locally-available garden-fork sporting a wooden shaft and handle. I'll not insult the good people who were so kind in helping me to eventually obtain this implement by mentioning brand names. Suffice to say, it's as much a piece of crap as the all-steel versions.

Heavy, unwieldy, lacking any semblance of sharpness of the tine-tips, and rusting in under three months, we found ourselves still using the old fork, despite its handicap. 

Then I found a fork that looked like The Real Deal. Stainless-steel tines. Split Ash handle and shaft. Made with an attention to detail that speak of generations of gardeners who have contributed to the design of the thing. A joy to behold and at a price that puts South Africa's garden-tool importers and manufacturers to shame. This stainless-steel marvel was cheaper than I would be forced to pay for some pressed-steel, rust-in-six-weeks piece of shit sold locally. 

The only catch was that this Fork Of Great Awesomeness was only available in the UK. Shipping would have cost more than the Object Of Desire itself. 
Last week Number Two Son and Partner came to visit for a few days. They live in the Wild and Snowy (recently, anyway) Southern parts of England, so spending some time with them after almost a year apart was an especial treat. Not only did they trouble to bring themselves, they came bearing A Gift. Oh yes! A Spear and Jackson Digging Fork

It'sss My Treasurrre...
I will hear nothing but praise for this Instrument of Gardening Harmony. Light in the hand and perfectly balanced. The stainless-steel bits slide into my heavy, clayish soil with no noticeable effort. The wooden shaft provides a springiness... a subtle but commanding leverage that aids in the lifting and turning of soil, making the gardener's work just that little bit easier. The attention to every detail speaks volumes for the proud workmanship: the notches in the handle that ensure it will never twist or turn in the hand, the snug rebate in the shaft ensuring that no water will find its way between wood and steel, the right and proper asymmetric taper to the sharp ends of the tines... Words are barely adequate to describe the sheer pleasure and joy in using so well designed and superbly crafted an implement as this. And for some inexplicable reason, my lower back feels none of the fatigue usual after a digging session.  I'm pretty sure this thing will last longer than I will. 

My deepest thanks go to my son for this superb gift, and for the trouble taken to get it here. 

I do feel, though, that I might be forced to take a look at a new spade, too...

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