The 18 Inch Hoe

on your kneesAs I was writing my last blog post about my neighbor Rose and her famous sugar cookies, I got to remembering what a character she was and how much she taught me.

Thin and wiry, she was one of the hardest working people I have ever met.  She moved quickly, slightly slumped over as if by making part of her body get there first, she would get more done.

And frugal! Even though her husband left her with enough money to live comfortably, she still sold eggs and her famous sugar cookies in town every week.

She would, of course, never throw anything away if it could still be used, so she would frequently bring objects for my husband to fix.

An avid gardener, one morning several years ago she broke her favorite hoe while weeding. She tore into our yard in her ancient car (she drove like she did everything else – fast!) and showed Jan a well-used hoe, the paint long gone,  with about 18 inches left of a broken handle. It was obvious that she had used the tool for years.

She showed Jan where the handle was cracking a second time at the point where it attached to the metal and asked him if he could fix it.

Although it looked hopeless, Jan said he would try and she could come back later to pick it up.

But when the handle literally fell apart in his hands, he knew there was no fixing it. The only solution was to put on a new handle. Thankfully we had one on hand because Rose didn’t like to wait.

He had the new handle on and the hoe sharpened when Rose returned, expected that she would be pleased.
18 inch hoe

She was not.

Actually, she was quite upset! She kept saying over and over, “But I don’t want a long handle! That handle broke years ago and it’s what I’m used to!”

So Jan – seeing that she would not be reconciled to what we considered an improvement – cut off that beautiful new wooden handle, although it pained him to do so.

When it was sanded smooth – Rose took her 18 inch hoe and drove away smiling.

We just shook our heads.

At the time it seemed like craziness – cutting off a brand new handle because she used to using a broken one.

I thought to myself how foolish to bend over to weed with an 18 inch hoe when you could stand up and use a full length one.

But now I know differently.

You see, Rose wasn’t bending over to use an 18 inch hoe.

She had learned through the years that the best way to get at the problem weeds in her garden was to get right down there with them.

On her knees.

She learned this the hard way, when the handle of her hoe broke years ago.

Isn’t wasn’t until some time later that I saw the life lesson found in that 18 inch hoe.

And like Rose , it took some brokenness before I discovered that the best way of getting at those problem areas in my life is –

On my knees.

How long is your hoe?

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