airforce of mosquitoes
Wednesday, July 22 2015
Yesterday during her brief visit home, Gretchen brought me a bunch of bagels from the cabin where she's catsitting. So today the only thing I ate were sandwiches made from bagels bracketing a variety of mostly-fresh vegetation, particularly lettuce and tomato directly from the garden (but also slices of Tofurkey, vegan mayo, mustard, red onion, and fresh jalapeño peppers). The lettuce was particularly exciting; it's coming in dense and tender in a newish patch in the main garden plot. Its only defense is an airforce of mosquitoes.
Today is statistically the hottest day of the year, but this particular day was unseasonably cool and dry. I took the dogs on a long loop that included the entire length of the Farm Road and the Stick Trail. Near the T where the Stick Trail makes a turn towards the west and the Canary Overlook Trail makes a turn for the east, I bucked a small skeletal oak into pieces. At some point early in the process, my GreenWorks chainsaw threw its chain, so I opened it up to discover that a big dish-shaped washer designed to hold the chain on its drive sprocket had gone missing. I thought it must have just fallen off, but I couldn't find it anywhere on the ground. And then it turned out that the saw worked fine without it so long as the chain was kept reasonably tight. If there is a design problem with that saw, it's pretty clear that I will eventually find it.
I was over a mile from home when I loaded my pack with the wood I'd just cut. But it was only 45.5 pounds, so it was nearly effortless to carry. Nearer the house, I added 47 more pounds (for a total of 92.5). I should mention that all along the Stick Trail was evidence of bear activity. Surprisingly large logs had been pushed out of the way to reveal the delicious creatures living beneath them. For whatever reason, though, the bear(s) this year are savvier about avoiding our dogs than they have been in past years. It might all come down to the loudness of Ramona's collar; earlier in the season I'd drilled holes through a couple coins and added them beside her license tag to produce a janglier sound.
This afternoon I wanted to do a few outdoor chores, but the mosquitoes were too vicious for me to spend more than a few seconds at a time doing anything besides swatting them. Fortunately, the cool weather allowed me to put on long pants, socks, and a long-sleeved shirt. To cover my head, I made a simple envelope out of plastic window screen and duct tape (it looked sort of like a black Ku Klux Klan hood). Dressed like this, I was able to do some watering and weeding, though eventually mosquitoes made their way up under the screen and were able to annoy if not bite me.
Earlier today I'd noticed some Chicken of the Woods growing at the base of a Red Oak near the southwest end of the Farm Road. I'd harvested Chicken of the Woods from this same tree in the past, and I wasn't going to let it escape me this year. So this evening, I grabbed a plastic bag and rode through the mosquito clouds on my bicycle and gathered all that seemed edible. It came to 34.5 ounces (and has a market value of more than $40).
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