Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs There was a time when I thought gathering firewood was a grand adventure. I actually looked forward to stuffing a U.S. Forest Service permit in the glove box of Grateful Red and tossing a Homelite chainsaw, gas can, splitting maul, shovel and a gallon of water in the back of the pickup.
Those days are long behind me. I don’t miss them one bit, and on Saturday, I sealed the deal by finally selling the saw at our garage sale. Funny thing is, I wasn’t intending to sell the chainsaw that day.
Why the heck not?
Well, I told my wife that nobody was going to buy a chainsaw that hasn’t started in a decade, and that if we really wanted to sell it, we would have to sink a little money into it, and who knows if we’d recover the investment?
What I didn’t tell her was that in the back of my weird mind I’ve been thinking that if the U.S. economy really tanked and it was every family for themselves, we’d be darn glad we had a way to heat the house after the grid went down. Nevermind that we took the wood burner out of the house in 1999. The metal chimney still is there, and I’m reasonably certain I could make a woodstove out of our old galvanized metal trash can if our survival depended on it.
So anyway, the Homelite still was tucked in its case in the dark recesses under a workbench in the garage when the first garage sale prowlers began casing our driveway. I was feeling a little insecure because I didn’t feel like we had enough junk for a credible garage sale. What if people scorned us?
The ace up my sleeve was my highly collectible, never-ever-opened bright orange box of Elway’s Comeback Crunch breakfast cereal.
When I took out my fancy classified advertisement in the newspaper Thursday, I made certain to mention the souvenir of the legendary Denver Bronco QB’s induction into the NFL Hall of Fame right up top.
Well, the garage sale went much better than expected. I sold a tambourine once used by Mary of the 1960s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary (at least that’s what I told the nice lady who bought it), an old kayak that’s been used about four times in three years, a bunch of 40-year-old golf clubs in a baby blue golf bag (once used by Babe Didrikson at a trick shot demonstration in Mazomanie, Wis.), an antique Walkman CD player and some ’90s rock CDs. And I even gave away some stuff.
But no one went near Elway’s Comeback Crunch. Whatever happened to Bronco-mania? Could it have been the $15 price tag?
Finally, a woman arrived at the garage sale who understood that the six-year-old box of cereal was priceless.
“Take that back inside,” she told me. “If you sell it, you’ll live to regret it. It’s never been opened!”
I took her sage advice, and when I came back outside a family from Texas had pulled up in a pickup. The father’s eyes lit on my super-duper lumberjack’s hardhat with a pull down chip visor and built-in ear protection. He snapped it up.
“Would you like a chainsaw to go with it?” my wife asked.
“He already has too many chainsaws,” his old lady shot back.
(“What about nuclear winter?” I thought to myself.)
“Actually, I fix them up myself,” the man said. “We have some land with mesquite and pine. I fix them up, but I don’t sell them. I just like them.”
I sprinted for the garage and came back with the Homelite and a sexy pair of Kevlar chaps designed to keep a weekend woodsman like me from cutting off his own right leg.
I let the man take it all for $15. I know. I got taken. The small-engine tinkerer from East Texas is going re-sell the saw and accessories for $75.
But now there’s more room for the rest of my clutter in the garage. So actually, I got the best of that deal.
And if you want some six-year-old cereal, it’s still available. But the price just went up.