To be honest, when my wife, Anita, said we were going to rent an auger, I was stumped.
“Why do we need a green monster with a Scottish accent?” I asked.
She looked at me, clearly stumped herself, until she forced her mind into I’ve-been-living-with-this-man-for-38-years-and-I-know-how-his-brain-works mode.
“Auger, not ogre,” she said. “You know, a long twisty power tool you use to dig holes for fence posts?”
Actually, I didn’t know — but I didn’t want to admit to any degree of ignorance, especially after, you know, the Shrek thing.
I got a firsthand look at the rented auger the next Saturday, when our family work crew gathered to help us put in a 20-foot stretch of fence that would finally, after more than 20 years in our home, fully enclose our backyard. The long curvy blade looked like it would cut neatly through the turf in our backyard, while the motor seemed powerful enough to do the job. All we needed was someone strong enough to hold the heavy auger firmly in place while the blade and motor did their collaborative best to dig holes for the fence posts we needed to anchor our fence. Uh, that would be Jon.
Jon is our youngest child, a strong and agile 23-year-old whose growing, part-wolf puppy made the fence project necessary. The other members of our work crew — which included Anita’s father; her brother, Brent; and our eldest son, Joe — voted unanimously that since it was Jon’s dog that was prompting the work, it would be Jon’s privilege to do the heavy lifting.
And he did.
“Hold on to that thing!” Brent shouted, almost encouragingly, to his nephew as Jon was being whipped around by the auger on his first attempt to control it.
“Straight and steady!” Jon’s grandfather urged as he watched the auger’s bit bounce on the grass without biting into the ground.
“Quit being such a wimp!” Joe said as only a big brother can say. “Gosh, that auger is a beast,” I said. “You might even say it is an ogre of an auger!”
It’s entirely possible I was still wrestling with auger/ogre confusion. A little. Eventually Jon started to get a feel for the auger and how he needed to manipulate the tool as it dug into the ground. Still, the work was slow, as Jon dug and then lifted the auger to clear the dirt from its turning bit and then plunged it into the earth again to chew its way to the proper depth. Sweat covered his face and dampened his shirt as he struggled against the weight and movement of the auger through the first three of the seven holes that needed to be dug.
I don’t know if Joe was moved by his younger brother’s efforts or if he was just trying to hurry things along, but as Jon braced himself to start digging the fourth hole, Joe took a position on the other side of the auger.
“Let’s try doing this together,” Joe said as he firmly grasped the tool’s handles, his hands bumping against Jon’s on the other side. For a moment it looked like Jon was going to protest — even as a child he was always anxious to prove that he was just as strong and tough as Joe. Instead he seemed to take courage from the offer. He looked into his brother’s eyes and nodded.
“Let’s do this!” Jon said as he flipped the power switch on the auger to “on.”
Immediately the difference was evident. Being balanced and steadied by two sets of strong arms, the auger dug smoothly into the ground and achieved the desired depth in a fraction of the time required for Jon to dig a hole on his own. Suddenly a long, backbreaking project was energized and easy, as two brothers worked hard — together.
“Growth is never by mere chance,” said renowned businessman J.C. Penney. “It is the result of forces working together.”
Even if you need to conquer an ogre of an auger.
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr