Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tired, I am...

Tired, I am...  The brush pile remaining turned out to be about three times the size I had estimated.  It took me all day simply to cut it up into (roughly) 6' long pieces and pile it up.  The resulting pile is 33' long, 6' wide, and about 4' high on average, after compacting by jumping up and down on it.  I've stacked it with branches all running in one directly so that I can pick it up easily with my tractor's fork (it's designed for pallets, but works great for brush stacked parallel).  I used two tanks of fuel on my chainsaw to do all the cutting.  I didn't actually burn any today; that will be tomorrow's job if the weather holds.

When I'm working with the chainsaw, I am careful to work only when I'm not dog tired.  I always wear my safety gear (helmet, hearing protectors, face screen, Kevlar leggings, Kevlar gloves, and steel-toed heavy leather boots).  The locals all look at me a little funny in this get-up.  I strongly suspect that none of them have ever even seen this safety gear, much less used it.  Manly men wouldn't stoop to such aids :)  I couldn't care less about the appearance, but I care a lot about keeping as many parts of my body intact as possible.  I've seen the videos showing the Kevlar leggings and gloves at work; I find those videos quite persuasive.  The boots seem commonsensical, as there are times when the end of the chainsaw blade is down near my feet.  The helmet with its integral hearing protector and face screen is actually very convenient, as is the absence of saw-ejected sawdust and wood chunks in my eyes.  Besides, the get-up is only confirming what the neighbors have already figured out: I'm not normal (at least, not by their standards!).

Anyway, I took a half-dozen or so breaks during the day, before another bout of chainsaw work.  During these breaks, I perched myself over the irrigation canal bank, under the shade of a big old black willow tree.  The burbling of the slow-moving canal was pleasant, as was the sight of the water.  The birds, though, were a great entertainment.  The trees along the canals are hosts for quite a few nests, all of which are occupied by hungry babies at the moment.  I watched as four pairs of robins, two pairs of red-winged blackbirds, an uncountable number of house finches, two pairs of warblers (unidentified), one pair of Bullock's orioles, and a pair of something that looked a grosbeak all worked hard to feed their babies.  Under our bridge, a hundred feet or so away, were the nests of about 20 pairs of barn swallows, also busily feeding their babies.  A pair of mallards swam along the canal, no babies behind them yet – probably soon, though.  All of these birds – most especially the robins and the blackbirds – were hollering away at me.  They were most seriously displeased, to steal a favorite phrase from Jane Austen.  I was pleasantly entertained.

As I worked away, several people honked in greeting.  I don't know who they were; I couldn't see them and I didn't recognize the cars.  Two cars actually stopped to see if I needed help.  One of those people was someone I'd never met before; the other a person I'd met once in the Paradise Post Office.  Both offered to run home, throw on some sacrificial clothes, and then come back to wallow in the mud with me piling brush.  I told them I was fine on my own, and to keep their Sunday something fun – but the offers sure put a smile on my face. 

After I finished piling all that brush, I took our three dogs out for a half-mile walk up the dirt road that runs east from our house.  It was a lovely late afternoon, with puffy clouds covering perhaps half the sky, leaving lots of sunlight all around us.  The hills to our west were a beautiful dark green in various shades, different crops being slightly different colors.  There was a slight haze in the air that layered a dreamy sort of look over the whole scene.  We could hear horses snuffling, cows mooing, sheep baaing, and dogs barking.  Barn swallows swooped all around us, no doubt catching food for their babies.  As we walked by our neighbor's pasture, the four horses within came trotting over to see us – we're all becoming friends now.  Even the dogs stick their noses through to greet them.  A half mile or so away, I could hear one of my neighbors to the south mowing her small lawn behind her house.  A little north of our place, I saw another neighbor stringing out hand line (irrigation pipes that you carry by hand, in 30' long pieces), preparing to irrigate.  That seems a little premature to me, but maybe he just wanted to be outside on such a gorgeous evening.

I love living here...

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