Weather. Or Not.
By 4:00p.m., the top third of the dead cottonwood tree that landed on the roof of Patrick’s shed after the last big storm came sliding off, helped by a rope and a strong tug. I caught it with my left hand, or more specifically, it hit my arthritic left thumb and wrist on its way down, and now it’s Miller time. Ice or an ice cold beer, either one would make that hand feel good right about now, but I’m settling for a bowl of frozen white grapes.
We woke up today filled with ambition after yesterday’s surprise afternoon walking the grounds of Flint Ridge State Park, where the annual Knap-in was wrapping up. It’s an event that beckons flint crafters from around the country to spread our their tarps and display their art—arrowheads and spear tips and polished wire-wrapped flint dangling from thin leather strips. I’d suggested we go there to stroll through the abandoned flint pits and imagine the Early Ones digging up enough of the colorful stone to painstakingly create the tools they’d use in the years to come. But the marquees held the promise of artisans and eye candy, so we shifted gears and strolled among the booths, not a scrap of cash with us.
That wasn’t a problem when we stopped at a booth selling hammered copper wrist cuffs, knobbly polished walking sticks and fish prints painted on delicate rice paper in the Gyotaku tradition. I couldn’t decide between the bluegill or the largemouth bass, so they both came home with us, thanks to the Square swipe card on the vendor’s iPad. More artwork for the still bare-walled living room that we refreshed more than a year ago. Now all we need are frames.
It was a relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon; I had solo’d at the Farmer’s Market that morning with our homemade granola. Patrick woke up feeling poorly and looking pale but insisted he was good to sleep it off unsupervised, and with the truck already packed, I inhaled a quick hard boiled egg and apple breakfast and managed the whole set-up, selling, and tear-down on my own. It was lonely but strangely satisfying handling it myself, and I knew Patrick was where he most needed to be. Sales were brisk and steady, and he was feeling well enough to travel by the time I got home.
Talking about the different projects needing our attention is one of our favorite things to do on any road trip, no matter how many or few miles disappear beneath the truck tires. Weather apps ready to hand, we discuss logistics and timing, and plan our breaks accordingly. “So, when we get up tomorrow, let’s clear that cottonwood from the roof of the shed and then trim the trees down by the old chicken coops. After lunch, we’ll push back the weeds growing along the ridge by the house and then, just for fun, can we cut a path through the field behind the old old goat barn? I’d love to see what that’d look like.” And on it goes until we arrive at wherever we were planning to be.
For Sunday, the weather-guessers were predicting rain later in the day, so we wanted to time our tree removal and cutting just right; working a chainsaw is tricky enough without the added element of slippery fingers in wet gloves. It ended up being more complicated than it looked, what with a tangle of tenacious grapevines holding the fallen tree in a hammock of green leaves and sinewy thick strands. We worked with a set of lopers, a chainsaw and a pole saw just to clear away enough of the vines to see where we were headed and could safely navigate the rest of the tree trunk. The sky overhead was a moth-eaten gray cloud cover, and there was still laundry hanging from the line. Sometimes projects overlap.
Two hours later, Patrick took a break, I nursed my bruised hand a bit while making a pot of chicken soup for lunch, and had just loaded up the last contractor’s bag of trash into the bed of the red Tacoma (the leavings of other farm and miscellaneous projects collected from around the back of the shed that we needed to move in order to get at the tree) when the skies let loose with a short but intense downpour. I debated giving myself the experience of working until drenched, which can be quite exhilarating if you let go of the idea that sopping wet clothes are uncomfortable, and ended up following my nose back into the kitchen where the Dutch oven full of leeks and wine-broth and pulled chicken and potatoes was a damn sight more appealing than making myself feel all tough and accomplished (and wet). The soup was delicious. I’d chosen well.
Once the truck bed had been emptied of its load at the end of the driveway (wondering what kind and how many gift cards to leave for our beloved trash collector, bless him), a nap was in order. I had barely closed my eyes when I heard the rumble of thunder to the south, where all the best dramatic storms come from, and knew sleep was no longer on the agenda. The lightning grew bolder and less spaced out in between flashes, and within minutes the wind was whipping the black walnuts and yellow maples mercilessly. I stood at the mudroom door and watched as green leaves showed their silver undersides and water ran in rivulets off the gutters.
Halfway through our Labor Day weekend, we had a tree down and cut (we’ll stack tomorrow), homemade soup aplenty, and trash cleared. The untrimmed trees by the chicken coops are waiting patiently, and I’m ok with the tall weeds still standing along the ridge.
Not bad for a to-do list wedged in between the raindrops.