more distant chestnut
Tuesday, October 26 2010
Normally she walks the dogs, but this morning Gretchen had to head out early, so it fell to me to walk the dogs. I chose the low trail, heading straight back and then down the Mountain Goat Trail. I carried a bow saw so I could clear fallen trees from the trail as I encountered them. About a quarter mile back the trail passes out of our property into the property of the guy behind us, a remote landlord who lives in Saugerties. He's a redstate kind of guy, who doesn't see much value in an animal unless it has a bullet in its brain or in a tree in the way unless it's cut up into cordwood. Unfortunately, this guy owns a lot of property and it's all managed with this pre-modern mindset. Fortunately, he's been resistant to pressures to sell off his land, and he's generally made himself scarce except during hunting season. We encountered him once about four years ago and he gave us grudging permission to walk across his land, but more recently Gretchen has had a few run-ins with his hot-headed son, perhaps exacerbated by Gretchen's hostile suspicion of anyone using the land for anything but vegan-friendly purposes.
Anyway, back to my dog walk this morning. As I passed onto this unpleasant neighbor's land, I noticed a bunch of fresh new signs posting the property against trespassers and hunters. And then, down at the bottom of the Mountain Goat Trail, near another border of this landowner's property, I saw a guy standing there. At first I thought he was a hunter, so I was sure to cough like a human so as to avoid being shot. But then I got closer I could see that it wasn't a hunter, it was a guy nailing posted signs to trees. The guy looked too young to be the owner, so I assumed it was his son, the one who had had a few altercations with Gretchen. I never feel any reason to be confrontational in the forest, so I said "Howdy" in a manner that suggested I wasn't there by mistake. The sign-poster had a mean look on his face, rather like the arch-villains of Deliverance, but he returned my hello without elaboration. I don't know what he thought of my blaze-orange hat reading "VEGAN" or the white teeshirt I was wearing featuring a false-color picture of the American flag and the words, "Because the flag makes more sense than the constitution." The package probably blew his mind. Still, running across that guy in the forest left an uneasy feeling in my body for the rest of the day.
There was some weird mid-autumnal cyclonic storm pulling subtropical air up through here on the way to Minnesota, so the day ended up being on the edge of hot, with temperatures topping out in the upper-70s. In the afternoon I decided to put in another stint at firewood cutting. Yesterday I'd set up a chain sharpening rig in the garage and had sharpened one of my old dull chain blades, so I wanted to see if I'd made it usable once more. My mission today was to cut up two old downed trees beyond the easternmost (downhill) edge of where I've been harvesting downed trees of late. I wasn't sure what species these trees were, but I suspect they're yet more American Chestnut, that latter-day fossil fuel of the forest. My sharpened blade seemed to cut the wood reasonably-well, though I might have had the angle of the chisel-edges a bit off because I found myself having to provide a bit more pressure than normal to achieve my cuts. Still, it was good to have confirmation that I could achieve some sort of sharpening on my own. I ended up cutting up more wood in one go than I normally do, producing something like three carts' worth of wood. Unfortunately, though, this wood was all unusually far from the Stick Trail. I came back later with a shoulder yoke and two firewood carrying "hammocks", but by this point I'd stripped bare to my waist and the yoke cut painfully into my shoulders even with a moderate load. Still, I managed to move about a carts' worth of wood to a good staging area along the Stick Trail north of the Chamomile (making use of the steps past the cave-of-shale mentioned in a previous entry).
This evening after a very long day of work and other prison-related business, Gretchen returned with amazingly good news. I've been sworn to some level of secrecy, but basically what happened is this: a mainstream publisher has made a surprisingly-generous offer for the book Gretchen has been ghostwriting for the past several months. This is the closest thing to a lightning bolt of success that I've ever witnessed, and it just struck my wife!
Fall colors and the two tomato patches, which continue to deliver tomatoes.
The woodshed these days. That's mostly American Chestnut.
The pile of Silver Maple from Ray and Nancy's tree, with a Subaru Legacy for scale.
Sally and Eleanor before their walk this morning.
And Sylvia the cat with Eleanor investigating outdoor drinking water options.
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