Digging, or turning?
Since I wrote the obituary of Mr Maurice Hobbs wherein I mentioned that he taught me how to dig and stopped me using my spade ‘as a shovel’ I have been asked more than once exactly what I meant. It is an operation that is best shown rather than described but I shall try.
The spade consists of three parts. The blade, the handle which is the D shaped bit on the end or the little crossbar, and the haft which is the bit between the blade and the handle. To shovel you get hold of the handle with one hand and grip the haft with the other hand with the palm facing upwards and the thumb on the top of the haft. This allows you to lift and cast whatever is on the blade.
Digging however is an action of turning the soil. It doesn’t have to involve any lifting or casting just a turn like a plough. To do this you reverse the grip on the haft with the palm on top and the thumb underneath. Insert the blade in the earth, lever it back and twist the handle and the haft. The earth is turned. It is dug.
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