Sunday, August 9, 2015

They grow so fast, don't they?

By rights those two trees should be in this 2008 photo to
the left of center.

See the two trunks to the left of
the four-wheeler? Follow them up.
Here's an
odd list of events at and along the trails around the East Pole over the weekend.

To begin with here is a post the cellular gods allowed me to put on Facebook Friday night after a day and a half of "no service:" Deep woods, East Pole, deck stained, water hauled, firewood split, prime lamb chops, home grown zucchini, Genesee beer and all 5 seasons of Ally McBeal LOL"

That's a pretty satisfying day at the pole. It was between the dinner and Ally McBeal, I was having that Genesee beer on the dry half of the newly finished deck, and staring sort of blankly off into the woods when out of the wall of green in front of me, two trees emerged into focus. Neither tree of itself was anything other than ordinary, just one of two growing in a forest full of them. Sharper focus for a moment, and I said right out loud, "where the hell did those come from?"  They grew on straight trunks, now at least 20 feet tall,  fully leafed out and within spitting distance of where I was sitting. And … I had never seen them before in almost 30 years of staring off that porch. Amazing how you can overlook what's right before your eyes.

The trip in had been about as good as it gets, at least until I reached my own side trail. Someone with a 'dozer had gone over the trail and put the blade down here and there knocking down moguls, filling trenches, even opening drainage in the places where water collects fairly deeply. The only standing water I saw was less than 10 feet long and was mostly liquid mud. To get an idea, normally I drive the trail in first and second gear; this time I drove it mostly in second and third and even kicked it into fourth a couple of times. That's flying on this trail. The trouble developed when I missed my own trail which is fairly obscured and I like it that way; it doesn't let people on the main trail know my cabin is up there and given how much time it spends empty, that's a good thing.

Problem is sometimes I can't find it either. Missed it this time and headed into the woods from a different spot. I didn't get 30 feet before I had the four-wheeler high-centered on a fallen log – lengthwise – machine AND trailer. Worse, the soft forest floor gave no traction and the wheels just flung what ground they could touch all over the place. I always carry a come-along and it took a while but I freed both vehicles and headed up the trail, with a new lesson learned. I had carried some of that braided climbers' rope. Never again. Unlike other ropes, this stuff stretches, not exactly a feature you want when trying to pull something out of the muck. It took three reattachments before I pulled the machine out of there.

But that was behind me as I sat on the porch with the beer contemplating the new trees. When I was out in July, I noticed a large number of songbirds flitting around through the brush. Sitting there, none came by. But I saw several large dragonflies. Given how thickly leaves had grown this year I began to wonder if somehow in the process of climate change we had slipped backward in the evolutionary process and I was seeing the beginnings of primordial swamp. Who hasn't seen a rendering of that period that doesn't include a huge dragonfly?

About then I went for another beer, sticking my hand into a cooler at a perfect temperature. After the revelation about the small cooler and melting ice last trip, I brought a larger cooler. In addition I bought block ice and a block of dry ice. At the cabin I opened the cooler to check if anything had been broken and leaked bouncing along the trail. The Eggbeaters were in a soft milk-carton container; that was what I worried about most. It was fine. Put the container at the bottom of the cooler next to the dry ice, pleased at the temperature. Next day, retrieving the carton I was a little dismayed to find it had frozen. It had actually gotten colder in the cooler. Of course, that was a function of the dry ice, but I know how I am going to do things in that regard in the future.

There is this, too. About three weeks ago there was a magnitude 4 earthquake and the epicenter location given by the warning center was put into the same words I use to give people a general location of the cabin. It survived a 7.6 less than 100 miles away a few years ago, but even a 4 right underneath was cause for some concern. I shouldn't have worried; not so much as a picture frame was out of place.

Next day was just about as mellow, all I did was split firewood, read and take naps and listen to the Saturday shows on public radio. Then the rain started, just about at sunset and it rained all night and all the next day. Of course, it was another trail day. I wrapped everything in plastic or at least garbage bags and packed the trailer, found a rain poncho my son wore when he was about 10, put on my XTRATUFS, sat down on a wet four-wheeler seat and headed for home.

Along the way I came across another sign life in the woods is changing. It's normal procedure when you find something in the trail that has obviously fallen off someone else's outfit, you put it out of the way but in a place where it will be obvious so whoever lost it will see the next time they come by. It's one of those civilities that come with living in the woods. So, I am cruising along this trail shiny and slick from the rain, slipping and sliding and look up to see a collapsed baby stroller hanging from a tree branch? A baby stroller? Who the hell brings a baby stroller into the deep woods? And how do you lose one?

Continuing along, dodging ruts, falling into others and skidding all over the place on the slick, wet muddy surface I made my way toward the trailhead, my mind sometimes elsewhere. That was until I found myself crabbing sideways almost perpendicular to the trail, front wheels in one rut, rear wheels in a different one and aimed at the high bank at the side of the trail. How did that happen? Well, behind me, the trailer had decided to take a different set of ruts altogether. When I'd come around a curve I headed for the outside of the trail whereas the trailer and taken a straighter path into a deep rut throwing me sideways in the process. Fortunately with the trailer confined to its ruts, I could back it up without the usual jackknife and then turn the four-wheeler in the correct direction and haul on out of there.
Best of the grouse pictures, rain, 
shaky hand, iPhone.

Farther on, I came across probably a couple dozen spruce grouse waddling along the trail and even stopped to take a picture, but with the iPhone they all came out  fuzzy, so, sorry.
In the heaviest rain so far, I reached the car and put the muddy load into it, ran trailer and four-wheeler onto the big trailer and headed home, hoping this rain was hitting the garden I had been ignoring for the past four days.

Oh, and Ally McBeal? Never even made it through the first season.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your accounts of traversing in and out of the cabin; brings back so many memories of doing the same things. God, I do miss that place so many memories, both good and bad.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve