It's all about having right tools and toys

All WhatchamaColumns


A dry winter followed by an early, warm spring sent us into a frenzy of growing and mowing, weeding and seeding, edging and hedging. It also jump-started our annual quest of gathering essential toys and tools for upcoming summer outings.

It’s the annual season of “Be Prepared.” There’s a bit of the Boy Scout in all of us, and nothing brings out that trait like getting ready for driving, boating, hiking, biking, cooking, camping, hunting, fishing or skiing, to name a few.

For men — I don’t mean to be sexist here, but I can only write about what I know — the distinction between toys and tools can become pretty blurry. Old toys might still work, but sometimes it’s impossible to resist the urge to add a few “must-haves” to the mix. For some, it’s boats and motors, rods and reels; for others, it’s specialized clothing and accessories for all manner of activities.

For all of us, it includes an endless array of gadgets, gizmos and doodads that cannot possibly be left behind, “just in case.”

One of the most fulfilling experiences a man can have is to produce exactly the right tool or substance to handle an unexpected challenge or circumstance. The more obscure the need, the better.

If some guest on a seashore outing expresses a sudden craving for sautéed razor clams, the true Boy Scout will respond, “Oh, I have two clam fillets on dry ice in my pack; hold this while I grab my travel wok.”

When your only screw or nut falls into a tiny crevice of the engine compartment, naturally you want to pull out that telescoping rod with a small magnet on the tip.

Snake-bite kit? Of course. Bungee cords? Wouldn’t leave home without them. Flare gun? You never know when a bear might come out of the woods.

And of course, in today’s world of high-tech electronics, there are dozens if not hundreds of new opportunities for having “the solution” at hand. I have a bubble-level app on my smart phone, just waiting for the time when something absolutely has to be exactly level.

I finally used my jeweler’s screwdriver set a few years ago, drying out the digital camera I had dropped into the river. It was my “a-ha moment” of the trip.

Note to self: Get one of those waterproof cameras for this summer, “just in case.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS