A Rite of Spring (or a Wrong of Spring)

Every spring it’s man versus machine as I try to start the trimmer for the first time since the end of summer. I know it won’t be easy.

I check the gas/oil mixture, the choke, pump the throttle and start yanking the cord. After a few failed tries, which is expected, I adjust the choke and try a few more times. Nothing. In case I’ve flooded it, I let it — and myself — rest. Then some more calmly spaced pulls, followed by a series of quick, angry pulls.

The choke gets adjusted, from all the way out to all the way in, and still not even a cough from the damn thing. But I persist, knowing that every year I finally triumph. And I tell the machine, with a few F-bombs thrown in for emphasis, that I will triumph this year too.

Finally, having worked up a light sweat. I face the prospect that the machine might have finally won. Not even an encouraging sputter. I stand up to give my knees a break.

And it is from this perspective that I notice the on/off button.

A moment later with the machine roaring, I tell myself that when I put it away next fall, I really should attach a reminder to myself to turn the damn thing on first.

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