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Down the Road

Yard work with a walking stick
By Milton M. Gross
May 5, 2013 - 12:17:20 AM

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In a cynical way, it's kind of fun to watch people drive by our house, watching me doing yard work while using a walking stick.

But, hey, if a walking stick helps with walking, it should help with yard work.

It also gets in the way. But then so does my sore leg.

I came across a walking stick a couple of years ago, while reading a book on walking. The author suggested that a walking stick could relieve the sore -- she called it "healing" -- leg of some weight, thus making walking a bit easier.

Before reading that I had walked by kind of flopping the foot of the "good" leg down a little harder, and sometimes that force would loosen the shoe lace. A real problem when your healing leg won't let you bend down to tie it.

Then in an L.L. Bean discount store one day, I peeked onto a shelf kind of hidden behind everything near it. There was a pair of walking sticks!

I bought the pair, gave Dolores one, and used one to ease my limpy way along through life. Then one day I forgot to remove my stick from a bus door when I shut it. You'd be surprised how quickly a walking stick will snap when a bus door closes on it.

So I borrowed Dolores' back again -- and bought a couple more online to use for spares.

These are walking sticks, the kind you use while hiking -- or limping -- through a trail in the woods. They are not canes. The walking stick is very light and has a strap which slips over your wrist. This allows you to actually lean on the strap without clinging to the walking stick.

For when you're doing yard chores.

The biggest problem I had the other day, while sawing logs that had been kind of piled (by some accident of nature) for the five years since we bought our Final Resting Place, where we're still waiting to rest, was being careful to not saw the walking stick instead of a log.

But because I'm a careful outdoor guy -- though not a logger by nature nor any other measurement, I managed to get them all cut and into the wheelbarrow. For those of you interested in learning how to push a wheelbarrow full of logs with only one good leg with which to work, here's my secret:

Instead of leaning on the walking stick, which is safely flung over the pile of logs while the loop on the handle end is around my left wrist to remind me which one is my left wrist, I lean on the handle of the loaded wheelbarrow. I lean and limp the entire 200 feet where I'm dumping the two loads of logs.

The only improvement over this method of leaning and limping and dumping is to have those smiling neighbors pull over and move the logs for me. But they didn't, so I leaned and limped and dumped.

While I sitting here tippy tapping on Mr. iMac's keyboard, I'm also gazing out the window, watching the grass grow. Yup, in the last ten minutes it has grown from just below the gunnel of the tipped-over canoe to where it's partly hiding that gunnel from my view.

I had been hoping that this was the year the moss would outgrow the grass. Moss doesn't need mowing.

One of those neighbors who smiled as they drove by, the least helpful one, told me that the moss is growing because the ground doesn't have enough lime. Being a patient kind of guy when teaching about doing outdoor chores with a walking stick, I advised him that I didn't want more lime -- or more grass, that moss was my ultimate goal.

As long as it doesn't get tangled in my walking stick.

But, alas, I just know that sometime this spring and then summer I'll have to pull the lawnmower out of the basement and mow the grass that grew despite the moss. Mowing grass with a walking stick is almost as much fun as pushing a wheelbarrow with one in hand.

You may ask why I don't use a riding mower. Two reasons: I don't have one and can't afford one. And, secondly, if I had one, my healing leg wouldn't bend correctly so I could sit and ride on the riding lawnmower.

So the walking stick and I push the walking (electric) lawnmower.

Back to the lesson: I lean on the lawnmower handle, as I drag the walking stick along behind us with its strap around my wrist. If you do this just right, you can not only cut the grass but stir up the mosquitoes and blackflies that are napping in the grass.

They are generally hungry, since Dolores doesn't feed them when she feeds the birds, raccoons, and deer, so they tend to nip at any exposed skin of the walking-stick-lawnmower pusher. Who, of course, wears shorts in summer.

That helps get the grass mowed faster.

The only other suggestion as to how to cut logs and haul them or cut grass is to have Dolores do that, while the walking stick and I watch from the porch and supervise.

But she won't do those chores.

She says I'm not that good a supervisor.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013

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