A two-stroke lawnmower, a weed-eater, blower or the ultimate device of this ilk, the chainsaw. At weekends, particularly when the weather is fine, they’re laying waste to errant vegetation at the hands of suburban landowners intent on earning Maximum Brownie Points. On weekdays they’re more likely being used by skilled professionals who know the value of engine maintenance and sharpening and who are prepared to take on those Really Big Jobs that some amateur powered by grit and beer has yielded to.
These professionals are the wearers of ear-muffs, hard hats, protective chap leggings and, that most useless of protective apparel, the fluoro vest. Duo-ictus dominum suburban is less likely to wear any or all of that kit, particularly the fluoro vest.
Sweat, strength and swear words. The two-stroke machine’s natural accompaniments. Natural honest toil at its finest.
When they are working there are few clean two-stroke machines. They go about their business with an all-consuming vigour, heaving shavings and other vegetative detritus wherever they may, usually festooning the operator. Facemasks and eye protection are highly recommended. So too are shin guards when operating a weedeater. No matter where one lives or how often one has previously slashed an area, there is always this rock that is whisked into one’s shin at warp speed. Perhaps it’s always the same rock. Usually the uttered expletive is the same, although conveniently drowned out by the bark from the two-stroke’s exhaust.
But aren’t they powered by a smoky as well as noisy internal combustion engine? Oh yes. How else is so much willing horsepower going to be delivered with minimal weight? An immaculately groomed house-section beats global warming every time. I don’t see members of the Green Party lining up to perform a comparable service for less cost. Indeed good luck to any political party that wants to ban the two-stoke engine.
A good two-stroke becomes a Kiwi Bloke’s pride and joy, probably their most prized possession. My Dad, who will be 89 this year, still owns and operates a Stihl chainsaw. Nobody can sharpen a chainsaw chain like my Dad. Sometimes I’m allowed to borrow it, after being given strict instructions about the right oils to use and how to clean it. And it must be immediately returned.
Fortunately New Zealand’s pioneering settlers didn’t have chainsaws. If they had, the entire country would have been clear felled.