Monday, September 14, 2020

Labor Day


Horticulture Hotline 09/14/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Last Monday was Labor Day. I took a little time to think about the customers that I work with at Possum’s and the stories that I heard over the years as well as some of my own experiences.


Here is how the U. S. Department of Labor describes the beginning of Labor Day:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.


Since this is the Horticulture Hotline, lets start with the landscaper. Can you imagine working in the yard – outside, in this heat – for forty plus hours a week. By 7 am your pants, socks and shirt are soaked with sweat. Wearing long sleeves to help protect themselves from the sun, the landscaper throughout the day might have a forty-pound backpack sprayer on their back spraying for weeds, a twenty-pound blower on their back-blowing leaves or a twelve-pound trimmer in their hands. The heat now, the cold in the winter. When you get home at night after being on the cusp of dehydration all day, all you want to do is take a shower, air dry, eat fruit or salad and get ready to do it again the next morning.


Landscapers also run into “things” in the landscape. Pruning bushes, they could see a snake looking back at them or disturb a nest of wasps. Running a string trimmer down a fence line on a property they just started to manage, the landscaper might hit that hidden fire ant mound and sling ants all over their pants. All the sudden the fire ant releases its attack pheromone and the ants begin biting.


Poison ivy was one of itchy hazards of the job. I think I had chiggers, red bugs, or ticks on me for two years straight. I was lucky I never got lyme disease or any of the other diseases tick carry. Having my girlfriend paint nail polish on my chigger bites was a nightly chore and not very effective. The enzymes the chigger released would still cause itching.


Then there was the time I got bit by a brown recluse spider and I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn’t hold the hospital liable if the enzymes that the spider injected in my finger caused it to rot or fall off of my hand. The big fields at the Navy base that we would mow once a month had the nastiest, biggest and meanest mosquitoes hiding in the tall grass. When Wild Dunes was being developed in the early 1980’s, there were some big mosquitoes there as well. One of my worst days at Wild Dunes was planting 174 Spanish Bayonet Yuccas – prick marks all over my arms and nightmares as well. Lifting palm trees into areas without equipment access was always fun.


Many landscapers cannot even take off Labor Day because they are required to do weekly maintenance – what a shame. For the rest of you landscapers, I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day!