It’s with heaviness in my heart that I tell you about the passing of my dear friend, Toro. My long-snouted companion of 19+ years passed relatively quickly, though not without pain. The grim reaper’s presence was signaled by an unusual grinding and metallic coughing, followed by hiccups and stammering, topped off by a little puff of air and finished with the big kaput.
Goodbye my favorite leaf blower.
His last, pitiful little puff was nothing like the strong wind he was known for in his heyday. He had gone from gale force to barely a breeze in a matter of seconds. I left the beat-up old guy splayed out on the deck, right where he fell, in hopes that my mechanically-gifted husband might conjure a way to resuscitate him.
When Frank arrived, I ushered him to where Toro lay helpless, his nose cone still proudly hanging on by the duct tape I had put in place years before. Without any to-do, Frank calmly, and with a surprising lack of emotion, officially pronounced my Toro dead.
“That’s it?” I asked, trailing him into the house. “You’re not even going to fiddle with it?” He was the king of fiddling.
“There’s nothing I can do.” He said it all matter of factly, like a detached surgeon relaying bad news to the shocked family.
And with that, my favorite outdoor assistant was gone.
One of the most beautiful features of our old Atlanta neighborhood is the statuesque, mature trees. Our home is surrounded by a canopy of leafy oaks and poplars. The big guys drop enough leaves, acorns and assorted stuff to keep the yard covered, and the Toro busy, seemingly year round.
I bonded with Toro during the nesting phase of my first pregnancy. It was a rock-solid bond that only grew deeper with my second pregnancy and even deeper with my third. Growing a baby is no swift process, so the immediate satisfaction of clearing a leaf-strewn porch, driveway or deck brought me immense, clean, happy happy, joy joy.
Shockingly, I have a couple friends who claim there should be a noise ordinance against the peaceful hum of a leaf blower. I still love them, despite their blasphemy. To me, it’s a lovely sound of progress and productivity.
Over the years, Toro saved me from more than leafy messes. He saved the kids from untold accidents, what with the acorns dropping like marbles on our driveway which is basically an all-sport court for running, scootering, rip-sticking, basketball and anything else you really shouldn’t do on marbles.
Then there was the incident with the surely deadly five- (maybe even six) inch snake.
I was knocking out a radio script on the back porch, about to pick Emma up from preschool, when I spied the creepiest of all creepies, right there in front of her playhouse. Now don’t go all reptile rights on me, I know they do some good things, like eat yucky vermin in their quest to overcome the whole Biblical satan snafu. But still, they were cursed to be our enemy, so my enemy it was.
When I spotted the cold-blooded could-be killer coiled like a tiny cobra right there on the threshold of Emma’s plastic palace, I thought quickly and did what any brave soul would do——I grabbed my Toro. With my heart pounding I plugged in my loyal friend and together we blew that snake to kingdom come, which, in this case, was located at the end of our driveway (determined by the length of my extension cord). The knotted-up, dizzy snake lay in shock, the victim of Toro’s full-throttle power unleashed. It was a beautiful moment.
So goodbye my trusted compadre. So long you dedicated cleaning machine. Thank you for always giving it your all, until your all was all gone.