My father was a man of integrity, and a hoot to boot. He loved to describe Santa Claus as “Sandy Claws from the Desert.” The moniker was his own invention, and a clever one indeed.
So, in honor of Percy McMillan Williams:
Dear Sandy Claws,
It’s that time again, and I imagine about now you and the missus are busy packing up the sleigh and getting the reindeer through their final conditioning for your long annual excursion to every nook and cranny of Planet Earth.
Don’t forget Rudolph, in case of fog. I have been exceptionally good, for me at least, with only perhaps 200 or so sins for which to be held accountable.
Consequently, I am expecting a commensurate amount of tidings from you in the form of nice gifts for me and my missus.
In fact, I have decided, out of the goodness of my heart, to dwell particularly this time on gifts she could enjoy over the coming 365 days.
I think one of those “heavy duty digger trowels” made of solid stainless steel and virtually unbreakable would be just the thing for her to stir up chili and other winter fare and, indeed even for use as an ice cream scoop when the product is frozen exceptionally hard.
Then there are the folding saws, sometimes used for pruning shrubs but also good for sawing up a big piece of frozen meat or slicing an orange, which my sister and her helpmeet provide us with at Christmas, because of their dealings in the citrus market down in Florida.
My grandparents had a neighbor boy, Johnny Fryer, on Chickasaw Road who one Christmas received a new hatchet, ostensibly intended for cutting firewood at Boy Scout camp, but which he put to use in chopping up Granny’s watering hose into small pieces.
She was livid and Johnny left for home like a bat out of you know where. All that to say this, hatchets are excellent for some gardening tasks.
But if you would be so generous to bring my assistant one this year, it would lend itself to more marital bliss than you can imagine.
She could use it as a meat cleaver, when my grandson’s gift of venison steaks could be chopped into stew meat.
Now then, Mr. Sandy, let’s get serious. A power leaf shredder would be just the thing for her to shred cabbage for slaw or kraut.
I promise if I had to use it for a while, I would clean it up afterward so no pieces of leaves would corrupt the kraut.
Then, too, there are new leaf blowers on the market that are battery powered. No gas fumes, the wailing isn’t as loud and they actually work.
But here’s the clincher: they are reversible; just plug the snout into the other end and it is a vacuum. Voila, a household vacuum cleaner for my dear’s convenience.
One of these could be used for the occasional leaf handling, but every few days for vacuuming the house. Anything for my assistant.
I am pretty well fixed for firecrackers, so just take mine to my oldest great-grandson, who is taking a basic course (from guess who?) on scaring people by burning powder in the middle of the night. Ditto Roman candles and skyrockets.
But the fruits, nuts and candy are still on my (our) list, though we have already received some from our friend, BJB.
Yours ever so humbly,
JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.