In Praise of the Single Track Wheelbarrow

I have two wheelbarrows. One is a newer huge capacity, two wheeled monster with metal frame and handles; the other is an old wooden handled, single tire, shallow pan model that I have had since the 1980’s.


Guess which one this is above………

This weekend I was reaquainted with the beauty and utility of this simple tool. I had about 2 yards of dirt to put pack into the trench I dug to bury pipe for our gray water system. I started with my big two wheeler and quickly discovered that maneuvering between the azaleas uphill and over edger stone was too difficult for me. These big two wheelers are made to allow twenty-year-olds to move large volumes of wet concrete and pour into forms. Heavy, awkward and hard to guide on anything but flat level ground.

The old single track above was originally yellow  and tagged in rattle can silver “Happy Anniversary” around the interior of the bowl. Although it still rolls on the original wheel and tire, I have replaced the wooden parts at least twice over the last thirty-five years. When I use this tool, I am reminded of all the work we have done together and the countless days it has endured outdoors in the rain, the heat, and the freezing cold. I am grateful for its reliability and durability. Like a simple hammer, it’s use is obvious and immediate. A lever and a wheel.

I noticed this weekend that the wood of the handles holding the front strap had deteriorated. Time for new handles and a repaint this fall.


Steamer Trunk


Memory is like a backpack you packed for a long trip and you are unpacking it years later after spending months on the trail. – Ugh! that smells bad. I thought that shirt was green. Are those my sox?

Digging around in my bag of experience to recall what younger me thought and felt when in my twenties or thirties. He was not thinking much about elderly people. They weren’t on his cultural radar unless they were relatives. Even then they didn’t warrant much thought. He didn’t feel their identity within him. They were not current. Regardless of what knowledge or skills they might have had,  it was dated and no longer relevant. They were place markers.

Now when the roles are reversed and I am “elderly” the rub of that kind of discrimination chafes painfully. Admittedly I am getting a dose of my own medicine (as my grandmother used to say). Cleverly, I now see the errors of my youth. I would like to connect to travelers who are walking this trail behind me. Some close behind. Some further back.

You may carry a day pack and I a steamer trunk and still have a lot to offer each other. Jus’ sayin’.