Friday, June 29 2007
The Town of Hurley has been doing their annual trimming of the trees up and down Dug Hill Road, and by that I do not mean to suggest that they have been celebrating the birth of anyone's idea of a lord and/or savior. Instead what they've been doing is making sure that all the marginal trees that hover above the power and telephone lines are cut down, thereby decreasing the number of power outages on our road to a tolerable eight to twelve per year. Yesterday, on a drive into town, I noticed several piles of wood resulting from this activity, and I'd gathered as much as I could stuff into the Honda Civic hatchback. Most of the wood had been Black Cherry, a good firewood that (because it usually grows along road sides) often comes with lots of nails and other human artifacts. One of the pieces of Black Cherry contained a mostly-engulfed telephone wire bracket. This is a relic from the days when Ma Bell strung wire tree-to-tree; indeed, some of the poles carrying electricity up Dug Hill Road are still live trees.
Today I drove down to the bottom of Dug Hill Road to pick up more wood that I'd missed yesterday. But I was horrified to find all of it gone. Had it been taken to those fields behind the Hurley Town Dump and piled up to rot away? What a waste! On my way home, I saw signs saying that more "Road Work" was being done in the other direction on Dug Hill Road, so I decided to drive up there and see what might be salvaged. I quickly came upon a truck equipped with a large arm supporting a man running a tree trimmer, but as I was slowly driving by it, the flagman looked in my car, saw all the wood I'd gathered, and shouted, "Don't take any of this wood!" How odd! So I drove up beyond their area of operation and found a different motherload of wood to take. (Dug Hill Road is full of free firewood, much of it invisible to drivers but obvious to those who stop and look.) As I came back with my now-stuffed car, the flagman stopped me and we chatted for awhile about wood. He told me that all the wood in the area now being trimmed was "spoken for" (I got the impression that this meant someone on the cutting crew wanted it) but that I could have any of the wood that would result when they cut in the bend near my house. Two things: how did the flagman know who I was and where I lived? (Hurley is admittedly a small town, but I'd never seen this guy before in my life!) and why was the wood so easy for me to claim? No matter; I told the flagman that all I cared about was that the wood not go to waste. "Hey, if you pick it up, that's great, because it means we don't have to," he said.
Later in the day I did another form of gathering, this time Black Raspberries from the many thorny canes growing near the house. Some of these were to the immediate south of the house along the steps to the Stick Trail, but most turned out to be along the fifty foot line between woods and field running from the north end of the house to Dug Hill Road. Especially in this latter place, the Black Raspberry canes had been heavily browsed by deer, but I was nevertheless able to gather more than a cup of berries. There will be many more berries in a week or so, as the season has clearly not yet peaked. And then, once the Black Raspberries have peaked, there are two more seasons of similar berries: one for Blackberries, and another for Dewberries, all of which we have in great numbers north and east of the house.
This evening Gretchen used thin Sharpie markers to draw a mercifully-temporary "tramp stamp" on my lower back, and then we went to the Hurley Mountain Inn to meet up with Ray and his many co-celebrants from both locally as well as the City, all of whom had gathered to note the occasion of Ray's 40th birthday. Both Penny and David (friends who have become part of the greater Ray & Nancy orbit) were there, and I ended up talking to David for a long time about an idea I have for a great new web community. Later, after everyone had had a chance to admire Gretchen's Vonnegut tattoo, I showed off my tramp stamp as though it was a genuine tattoo. For the most part people held back their disparaging thoughts, not knowing if it was done ironically or permanently.
Gretchen went home before me and I stayed with the others for awhile, mostly playing a videogame that tries to simulate the distilled fun parts of the experience of a redneck deer hunter. Instead of drinking whiskey for ten hours in the cold rain and then maybe accidentally shooting another hunter (or settling for a woodpecker), the deer are shown in quick succession, always in Noahic pairs, and it's important to only shoot the buck.
A mysterious beetle with huge eye spots on the lip of the wheelbarrow.
Green cherry tomatoes in the garden.
Red clover in the yard.
A tomato flower in the garden.
A flower in a hanging pot near the front door.
A brachiopod fossil, one of many in collected rocks around the house.
My tramp stamp, as drawn by Gretchen.
Tramp stamp detail.
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