Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Smoking grass in Dubrovnik

By  May 14, 2016

Nature provides food for us to eat, minerals to enrich our bodies, fuel to keep us warm, views to warm our souls and work, lots and lots of work. At this time of the year I think the most sought after worker in Dubrovnik, well certainly out in the rolling countryside, are grass cutters. If you are even left out of work my advice would be to buy a decent grass trimmer and put an advert in a local newspaper – I Can Cut All Kinds of Grass. Believe me you will be inundated with calls!

Summer is here and we have moved to our summer residence to make way for tourists. Most of the jobs have been done but the one I have left to last, the one I always leave till last, is to attack the grass! It has grown to the size of a small child; we have lost our dogs a few times already. The worst thing about this overgrown meadow is that it is mainly made up of bamboo. If you have even tried to cut bamboo then you know how I feel. It has the consistency of an oak tree and the flexibility of rubber.

“Rather than attempt to cut this why don’t we just get a couple of pandas and let them gorge themselves for a week,” my suggestion fell on deaf ears as my wife once again reminded me that the bamboo jungle needed attention.

“I don’t think my grass trimmer will be able to cut through this forest,” this was my signal that we needed to call someone to help. This was when we were met with the most sought after profession in May in Dubrovnik. “Sorry but I have tonnes of work can I call you next week,” answered the first point of call…he never called back. “I have at least two weeks of work in front of me, you should have called earlier,” the second was just as busy. “If I get time I will cut it for you, but I can’t promise,” needless to say that promise was never fulfilled.

There were no excuses left, I would have to dust off my trimmer and get stuck into the panda food myself. Now if I had one of those petrol driven trimmers it wouldn’t have been too much off a problem, but I don’t, I have a small electric version that is designed for manicuring wafer thin grass. I looked at my trimmer then at the bamboo field, I almost felt like saying sorry to the trimmer. Instead of a sharp blade a thin wire hung from my trimmer, this was going to be a challenge.

“Will you be able to cut anything with that,” asked my wife. I would probably struggle cutting hair with this let alone a solid bamboo. I wasn’t wrong! My cable broke almost immediately, and again, and again and again. I needed to change the plan, I had succeeded in cutting a meter squared on the jungle and used all my cable up. “I am going to buy a thicker cable,” I waved to my wife as I set off to the shop. This was a “hero or zero” idea! The trimmer had been designed to take up to a certain size of cable and no thicker, I needed something twice the recommended size, hero or zero!

Wrapping the extra thick cable into the trimmer I already had visions of the electric motor disintegrating. “That looks a little too big for your trimmer,” said my wife, she wasn’t wrong. “Either the trimmer will spin around or I will spin around the trimmer,” I replied. BANG, THWACK, BANG, THWACK. Lumps of bamboo flew up in all directions, this was a massacre. BANG, THWACK, BANG, THWACK. I felt like Freddie Kruger. I was winning.

“What’s that smell,” bellowed my wife above the buzzing of the trimmer. I looked down to see a whiff of smoke coming from the trimmer. That can’t be a good sign. BANG, THWACK, BANG, THWACK. But I was so excited that I was finally destroying the bamboo that I didn’t want to stop. If the trimmer catches fire then I will start a fire in the bamboo and get rid of it that way. One way or another the bamboo is coming down!

I rested the trimmer; the smoke had died down, the ultra thick cable was still alive, I was in business. After an hour or so I had flattened the field, I had also used all my cable. Unfortunately I was left with another problem; the very bottoms of the bamboo shoots had refused to be destroyed. The garden now had hundreds of bamboo traps, which dug into my feet as I walked. It reminded me of those traps that the Japanese army left for the Americans as they made their way across the South Pacific islands. Razor sharp bamboo designed to cut through flesh, and it seems that I wasn’t the only one to notice this similarity, my dogs refused to step one foot on the minefield. “Maybe we should have adopted a family of pandas after all,” was the conclusion for the day.

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