I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw, and this phrase jumped off the page: “The finger has hundreds of sensors per square centimeter. There is nothing in science or technology that has even come close to the sensitivity of the human finger with respect to the range of stimuli it can pick up. It’s a brilliant instrument.” He happens to be quoting Mark Goldstein, a sensory psychophysicist, talking about the superiority of well trained digits as diagnostic tools over the ubiquitous mammogram. We gardeners know what he’s talking about. No hoe, trowel or fancy weeding device can telegraph to our brains that gentle tug/release our fingers feel when the dandelion taproot gives up the fight and yields to our superior strength. Major digging may not be advised while the soil is still damp, for fear of turning it to a good imitation of concrete…but there is no better time to go after those pesky perennial weeds.
I mostly wear gloves, but when it comes to delicate weeding chores, nothing beats a bare-fisted, probing fingers approach. The garden ends up looking great, but don’t look at my favorite gardening tools too closely.
Enter Bag Balm, in the distinctive green tin with the cow’s head wreathed in flowers on the lid, and a discreet illustration of an udder and teats on the side. It is almost pure lanolin, and sticky feeling when you first slather it on. It absorbs fairly quickly, but even so, I only use it at bedtime to avoid mucking up anything I might touch. Having tried dozens of products over the years, I will say that this is the only one that really works. I buy it at our local feed and seed, but recently spotted it on the shelves of a one stop shopping center in town. Guess the word is getting out. Rest assured that no cows bribed me to write this post. I do so as a public service to fellow sufferers of cracked cuticles and callused paws.