I don’t know if I can use the word “lopped” as I have in the title, but I’m going to anyway because: my blog.
I get a lot of use out of the two pair of loppers I carry with me just about everywhere my feet take me at Roundrock. If I’m not liberating young cedars from their earthly toil, then I’m snipping away low branches from trees to allow safe passage for the flesh on my face (and my eyes). Both pair have seized occasionally (the loppers, not my eyes), either being hard to open or to close, with leg muscles generally required to correct the matter.
Such was the case last weekend as I was snipping some scrub atop the dam. I cut away a trivial, dried annual and tossed it down the side of the dam (where Flike was less likely to go after it and bring it back to me). But then I couldn’t open the loppers. So I did what I do in these cases. I put my foot on one handle and pulled on the other. The tool resisted at first, but then I heard a small pop as, I assumed, a burr in the hinge was shaved off. They were fluid after that, opening and closing with surprising ease.
As we continued up the north-facing slope, I liberated a few cedars, but when I bent to snip the next one, the loppers came apart in my hands, as you can see above.
That burr I heard pop was actually the bolt holding the two halves together. Somewhere in the forest, the nut with some of the bolt still screwed in it had fallen. The head of the bolt, with a rough snap in its middle length, clung to the one half of the loppers. I confess that I abuse this tool. I use it to cut limbs and trunks that are too thick for its design. I just keep pumping the two handles until I worry my way through whatever it is I shouldn’t be cutting with them. And I’m sure that’s why they would seize occasionally. Regardless, my liberating work was done for the remainder of the hike. (We were venturing toward the southeast corner to see what my neighbor had done about that giant limb that had fallen across our mutual fence. I wrote about this a few weeks ago. From the sound of the machinery at work up there I expected to find cleared land the width of a landing strip. What we actually found, however, was no change at all. The giant limb was still on the ground, blocking his access to the far corners of his land, though no longer pulling down the fence since I had cut that part away.)
So now I’ll spend some time in the hardware store, looking for exactly the right nut and bolt for the job and likely not finding it. I suspect it’s too specialized to be generally available unless I order it from the manufacturer. I further suspect that the manufacturer would prefer that I just buy a new pair of loppers. (The more likely outcome, to be honest.)
“Loppers” is a curious word. It is what is known as a plurale tantum, which is Latin for “plural only.” These are words that exist only in the plural form (“lopper” is a legitimate word, though apparently only in print and otherwise clumsy-sounding when spoken). Other examples include scissors, glasses, electronics, and genitals.