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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Unveiling My Big Idea

“Maybe I’m getting crotchety, but sometimes it seems there’s a plague of unnecessary noise out there.”

So begins one of the essays in Dee Blair’s new book, The View from Sunnybank. She describes an interlude on her Traverse City front porch hammock that begins peacefully enough.

“Cardinals call, flowering anuals beckon to butterflies drifting by on the light breeze.”

Sixth Street is, after all, a lovely old cobblestone byway, a neighborhood where thoughts turn naturally to what we fondly like to imagine were quieter times. And shouldn’t a hard-working gardener be rewarded with a little lazy reading and dozing on a summer’s day?

If you’re guessing that Ms. Blair's peace was quickly shattered, you’d be guessing right. First came a slow-moving car with booming stereo bass. Next a whining leaf blower. When the operator of that machine finished his work, “the roar of a big power mower splits the air.” Such are the frustrations of urban life: if you’re not working yourself, someone nearby is, and probably not quietly. “Hoping for peace,” the author decides to count to 100--but I’m not going to tell you what the next intrusive sound is, because I don’t want to give away the end of the piece!

Dee Blair will be the guest of Dog Ears Books this coming Friday. She’ll be at the store in Northport to sign books, and she will probably (am I going out on a limb here?) be willing to answer your garden questions, as long as they pertain to flowers rather than fruits and vegetables. She does not do edible plants.

What I’m wondering is if I can sell Dee on a new business idea. It isn’t a business for either of us but one we would both applaud and support with fervent recommendations. Ready? Here it is:

The Quiet Team. QT, their shirts would say. Women in their 30s and 40s, women wanting to work outdoors but not amidst roaring engines and gasoline fumes. They would push reel lawn mowers, swing scythes instead of weed “whackers” and wield quiet clippers and loppers for pruning. They would rake leaves rather than reverse-vacuuming them. Can you see it? Ah, but can you hear it? I know I would love to arrive at my branch bank in Northport early on a summer morning and find QT workers on the job.

"Why not men, too?" someone asked. Because men like big, noisy engines, and that's precisely what QT workers will not be using.

This idea could spread like wildfire, if only someone will rub two sticks together to make the first spark! Don't you think so?


Dawn said...

oh I agree! I've often thought we should all be mowing with one of those manual mowers...or have goats. But my yard's big...and unfortunately I'm headed out now to mow. On a giant John Deer... I'm ashamed to say.

P. J. Grath said...

When the QTs begin to organize, they'll have to investigate the new cordless electric mowers to figure out which are the quietest. An old-fashioned, nonpowered reel power would take forever on a big lawn. And I don't want goats, either!