Have you ever found yourself doing something and thinking how strange this must look to an outsider? What I find interesting is not that I find myself in situations like that often, but that when it happens I am conscience of the fact and kind of place a marker in my brain to remember the moment.
I am on the side of the road looking for a coconut with my son. In the back of my pick up is a trebuchet. We are on our way to my friends work where he claims that there is a perfect place to hurl objects to test the design. I don’t remember why the coconut fell out of the pick up but I do remember that it was critical that we find it. I also remember that if someone drove up and asked if we needed any help I would have said, “Oh I am so glad you came by, I have lost my coconut in this corn field. With out the coconut we won’t have anything humorous to hurl.” I know that because my son and I discussed exactly what we were going to say. We did find the coconut, with out asking for help.
Fling and hurl are the words used to describe what you do with a trebuchet. Which is one of only two things that they are useful for.
On the same day I remember that after many unsuccessful attempts to fling half bricks (Same weight as a coconut) we finally made a successful flinging of the coconut. We walked it off to find exactly how far it went. You see it went into a pond and no one was going to go in and get it back. So that was our one and only successful coconut flinging. John was spotting with binoculars and claimed that we missed a duck by about five feet. First you have to realize that John is a huge fan of Monty Python. So when he said that we missed a duck by five feet that spawned a whole discussion on coconuts, ducks and swallows. It went something like this:
Where’d you get the coconuts?
We found them.
Found them? In Colorado? The coconut’s tropical!
What do you mean?
Well, this is high desert!
The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin or the duck may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
Not at all. They could be carried.
What? A Duck carrying a coconut?
It could grip it by the husk!
It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A one pound bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
Well, it doesn’t matter.
Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a duck needs to beat its wings forty-three times every minute, right?
Am I right?
And so on,
All spoken with a high shrill voice with a British accent. Yes, John does remember every single word in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.
I imagine a much different conversation if we managed to hit the duck. I will leave that conversation as an exercise for the reader.
Anyway that was the last fling for the trebuchet. It ended up in the back yard, and like many things the cost of repair exceeds the cost of rebuilding. So over the winter it was used as a ready source of firewood for the fire pit. Naturally when beer and fire are involved things get cut up. My lovely and ever tolerant wife suggests that the ugly wood thing should just go away, well the rest is as they say is history.
Which is the other thing that a trebuchet is useful for.