Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Woods

     Five days, mostly in the woods. No TV, no phone - actually had a phone but didn't use it. Does that count? Cut and split some firewood. A flock of geese flew in to bother the swans on Deadman. A raccoon rustled through one of the woodpiles to bother Lois. But mostly it was the quiet and the changing of the leaves that added a little more depth to our lives.
     By the time we left this morning the trees were glowing. Maples, birches, basswood, oak and aspen. A few of our spreading grove of maples finally showed their true colors by breaking out in scarlets and oranges. No doubt anymore that they're reds.
     Finally finished clearing the paths. Not a forever thing and will be done again next year. It's now possible to fully tramp all four corners and end up where you started. We're not fancy or mechanized. Hand cutters, ax and rake. The hardwood forests of northern Minnesota are mostly hazel brush if the truth be known. Relatively speaking the trees are few. So path clearing is mostly brush cutting. And if  the buggers aren't cut off at the root a walk quickly turns into a trip.
     A thought struck me as to the similar size of the jackpines on our land. Nearly all are about as mature as they get, around eighteen inches in diameter. Jackpines can't propagate unless their cones are open and the seeds released. That requires a temperature approaching 200 degrees fahrenheit. Under normal circumstances we're talkin' forest fire.
     Also here and there are a dozen or more jackpine stumps. We've been on the property since 1980 and the stumps don't look like they've changed a bit. Eroded, jagged and black but give one a kick and you'll be sorry. I removed one in the yard a couple of days ago using shovel, ax, maul and chain saw. It was a small one to be sure. Nowhere near the size of the others. Took an hour and dulled the saw. Like cuttin' stone. Thick with crystalized pitch.
     Long story short, I suspect the stumps are a year or two older than the standing pines. The same fire that fried the old ones also spawned the eighty foot babies dancing in Monday's breezes.
     I guess that means life's a hand off. All living things no more than cells that come and go while the organism spreads as far as it can. 'Til it goes phtt also. Not like that's a new idea. And not all that depressing, just the way it is. No myth of Sisyphus anywhere except between the ears. Pushin' that rock up the hill can be a good time so long as you get out of the way when it comes rumblin' back down.
     Crap like that flowed through my head as I cut, cleared and did my best to not bleed any more than necessary. And crap it is. About as useful in the long run as clearin' those paths. And just as fun. Passes the time. Keeps the heart pumping and the brain smoldering along. If something worthwhile pops up I'll let you know. Or, more likely, forget it by the time I sit down to the keyboard.
     I have no real idea of how to blog. Don't do pictures. Spend way too much time on each entry. Don't write every day.
     Oh yeah, I forgot, we saw a salamander. Not that big a deal but we don't see a lot of them. Looked to be black but a closer look would probably say otherwise. Seems like nothing in nature is really the color it appears to be. Closeups reveal a lot of individual things goin' on to make up a completely different looking whole.
     In the summer we get gray, mottled tree type frogs in the pitcher pump. I pump for all my little old arms will pump but the frogs, or frog, just crawls back inside never to be seen again. Or at least until the next time up north and I pull the bucket off the pump. I know some toads are poisonous, some hallucinogenic. Gets me to wondering if the frogs in the well have any effect on the water. And if they do, is it any worse than the city water back in Minneapolis? Maybe they're the reason behind my continual inability to hit the shift key when I want to capitalize. Life is an experiment and a continual risk.
     God bless the internet. Looked up gray, mottled tree frogs in Minnesota. Guess what? They're actually called gray tree frogs. Ain't that clever?

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