I, a dedicated gardener, do declare there are three constants: death, taxes, and bad brooms.
I find myself pondering what would happen if I vanished today. Who’d understand my garden’s intricate needs, its subtle tweaks, and why and how decent Brooms should be used? Gardening isn’t rocket science, but still…
Take sweeping skills, for example. People vary. There are sweepers, and Sweepers. Sensibly, therefore, there are brooms, and Brooms. Mostly, both sorts fall into the first category. Usually, brooms are wielded in a desultory manner. Trash feels unthreatened. Crisp, finished edges are unknown. The broom is NOT master of the situation.
Proper Brooms are perfectly designed to whisk away objectionable debris, but their controllers often haven’t a clue about how use them to achieve that end.
Sweeping properly is extremely important. If I interviewed an apprentice gardener, the first thing I’d do is put a Broom in his hand, and ask him to have a go. I’d immediately grasp what sort of worker he’d be. Would he sweep with authority? Would he maneuver the Broom to cleverly clear cracks and clean up sidewalk edges? Would he use broad sweeps, and not crab along with useless, no-pressure ‘little old lady’ motions?
I demand a Broom Commander!
What I see most often are broom wimps.
Let’s examine the tool itself.
A common kitchen broom offers sleek nylon bristles, which don’t frighten trash, do bend easily, and are usually clipped at a rakish angle, reminiscent of a skinny model wearing a shimmer-y Sassoon haircut. The slim, bright blue, green or even crackerjack-red plastic handle is often screwed/glued into its holding hole, which goes wobbly after just a few jobs. The annoyed operator winds up re-securing it over and over.
Other brooms look traditionally built. These might have the usual long (but subtly skinnier) wooden handle that fits nicely into the receptacle located at the top of its business end. The straw is cut straight, and feels- o.k. But, like thinning hair expertly blown dry to appear thicker, these bristles go limp when asked to perform.
Alas, a test run is never done. People see a reasonable-looking broom, snatch it up and trot to the checkout counter. Only later, lured by the red stitching and traditional look, do they realize they’ve bought a schroom. Their hands know something isn’t right; the tool feels oddly- inadequate. Hushing their ‘little voice’ they’ll shweep dutifully, secretly annoyed by the lackluster result. Their tool will quickly develop ‘broom-bottom-sag,’ which is incurable.
The baffled operator shrugs.
I own Brooms. Each is well made. Hefty. The long handle, thicker than its doppelganger, is made of hardwood. No cute color has been applied. A stout screw insures there’ll never be bristle-wibble.
The business end is heavy. If a fascinated buyer holds this Broom up against a wimpy one, the difference is instantly obvious. This Broom’s got muscle. Substance. Its plain stitching is iron-hard. There are many more densely compacted bristles cut thick, straight and even, flaring to a stiff skirt. Its stout, thick bristles resist sag.
This. Broom. Sweeps.
It’s a work of art, perfected after centuries of tweaking.
Lastly, because these Brooms are constantly used, their bristles will shorten a bit sooner. Wise operators retire these exhausted workers, and then march out to farm or hardware stores for another, which, of course, they’ll test-sweep first.
Experienced operators keep bristles protected when the tool is resting. Some even store their tool upside down.
I’ve worn out many a stalwart Broom.
Trash trembles; edges gleam.
Together though, we make clean sweeps!
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