Having broken the head off of my hammer a while back, I figured it was time to make a trip down to the Supply Bazaar today and fetch a new handle ~ as well as some other gardening tools made of steel that I have been in need of since I moved here to Pakistan.
Supply bazaar is a wonderful place to visit. North American Readers ~ Think: The Home Depot…200 years ago.
As a young boy, growing up in Canada back in the 1970’s, my dad was the type of fellow who was always fixing and improving things around the house. He was a real DIY guy before the trend of DIY TV shows and one-stop-shop-building-box-chain-stores came into vogue, offering complete home-renovation needs to ensure that every suburban home looks exactly the same.
My dad would often take me along with him as he visited flooring stores for tiles, lumber yards for wood, brick yards for stone or plumbing suppliers for piping. Somehow, with his big hands and fascinating tools, he seemed to know exactly what to do to stud, insulate and panel a rec-room (gosh, there’s a word you don’t hear anymore, eh? “Recroom“. Man I miss the 70’s!), grout bathroom tile, install a new toilet or put up a chain link fence ~ without reading books, having help from friends (other than my mom) or taking a Saturday morning “DIY for Dummies” course at a hardware store offering free frappa-crappa-chino-lattes to all attendees. (Local franchises of Home Hardware didn’t offer such things in those days, and real Canadian dads drink Tim Horton’s coffee anyway.)
Nope – my Dad was just this mysterious genius who worked around the house meticulously with some “inner instruction booklet” that nobody else could understand but him. He’d get frustrated sometimes – mostly when others tried to help him and couldn’t understand his logic or follow it fast enough – but I never heard him cuss or saw him chuck a hammer across the room in anger when his repairs went a muck (which they rarely did)…he’d just work quietly and methodically as if he’d done the job a million times before.
During my teens, I had the pleasure of helping Dad build a cute garden shed in the back yard. It’s still there, back home in Kitchener…a mock swiss cottage, with planters beneath the windows and the whole shebang. It was so cute my mom used to tease us, saying she would move into it if we made her life too miserable to bear. We’ve gone easy on her ever since and so, to this day the shed still just houses the lawnmower in winter and the snow blower in summer. In those days Dad and I talked about building a real cabin together and I still hope and pray that dream can come true, for though I am almost in my 40’s and my pop is in his mid 70’s his workshop is bigger than ever… enhanced now with lathes and chainsaws and table saws and jigsaws and more tools than you’ve ever saws!
It was always my desire to grow up to be like Dad…learn to fix things and build things on my own, using patience, logic and creativity. I try my best, but sadly, my temper is shorter than Dad’s, my ingenuity not as sharp as Dad’s, and my tendency to poetic profanity during times of frustration is far more colourful than Dad’s. Alas, I must admit, that I am still better with Lego than “real building supplies” (as my attempt last year to build a simple bin for compost proved.)
Back to the Abbottabad’s Supply Bazaar: As I walked down the narrow dirt road with small shops on either side of me, I recalled those old days as a kid, accompanying my Dad to purchase tools or home-repair materials, and I felt so “at home”. It was a strange and interesting feeling, acknowledging to myself that I felt more comfortable and excited amongst coiled spools of wire, rope and chain link, tools and boxes of nails, than I ever have in a music store.
What is even more delightful about the bazaar here in Abbottabad, is that many of the items one sees are not “mass produced” or imported. Their quality is very rustic and in many cases they are hand-made out of recycled materials.
For example: The scythe I purchased to cut the grass and weeds growing around my garden has a whittled piece of wood as a handle, attached with nails to a piece of cut recycled steel, jaded on the inner side. The garden rake I bought is again made of forged recycled steel, with large nails fastened to it as teeth. It’s handle is just a hand whittled piece of wood.
The list of tools made out of recycled items goes on… mouse traps, bird cages… you name it.
Whenever I purchase an item I often feel great buyer’s remorse, thinking to myself “Why didn’t I just try to make this myself? Stitch the cloth? Whittle the wood? Bend the steel?” I try to cut myself some slack and remember that, even though I didn’t fashion my own tools for my gardening, at least I was able to purchase durable ones made from recycled materials, by skilled trades-people and sold by independent merchants at a fraction of the cost they’d retail for abroad.
I’ll think of my Dad today as I use a knife he gave me to whittle down the end of my new handle and fasten it to my old hammer-head. Maybe I’ll even whistle a little tune like he does when he is working. And if I should slip up and botch the task – I’ll try really hard not to cuss…too loudly. 😉