Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weather memories are short. The wettest summer of record and the third hottest disappears after two glorious fall days. Cool nights, 70 degree days. Days for thinking about getting more firewood. Days harvesting the last of the jalapenos, peppers, cabbages and canning sauerkraut.
The morning fog is a whispering wet mist that drifts toward the ground. So thick, the mist hovers in the air swirling over cat and dog. Mandy looks at the dew covered weeds swallowing up the lane down toward the river flat and decides against snooping for early morning critters.
(click on image for larger view)

Vernon County is repaving the county road across the bridge and down the highway. During the week, it's a short cut to the Amish sawmill and to the folks up on the hill. I backtrack from highway 14 which is also under construction. Single lanes, flagmen and dump trucks hauling asphalt slow traffic to a dead standstill. The county road cutoff is no picnic either. The proximity to the river forces crews to raise the road bed with multiple loads of dirt and gravel. Trucks farting down the straight stretch in front of our place are a common occurrence. Because the shoulder is soft and unstable, I keep the car in the middle of the hard packed gravel road watching out for oncoming traffic. Before I can react, the Prism is straddling a mound of gravel, graders have pushed to the middle of the road. Jerking the steering wheel to the right could mean disaster. A roll in the ditch or worse. Slowly I work my way off the long row of sand and gravel. Stones scrape the underside of the car. I wince thinking of parts of the car being worn or torn by grinding .

Pinging noises from the wheel wells and flat parts of the under body mark the remainder of the trip back home. I pull Johann off the remodeling work to drive back to the sawmill to help me load firewood blocks. One pick up load fills the basement wood bin to the rim. The basement is filled with the sweet smell of cut wood. Johann occasionally pauses tossing blocks into the truck bed to hold up a piece of wood. "Black walnut,"he exclaims. "Wouldja look at that." Some of the wood is red oak. Quite a few pieces of wood are cut off defects caused by black ants. I occasionally find a tunneled rotten block turned reddish black crawling with ants. Inside the sawmill Amish workers are busy cutting 6X6 timbers, sending trim pieces up a conveyor belt and into the converted manure spreader turned wood wagon. A mounded truck load costs me $35-cash only. "I've often wondered," Johann says philosophically, "Whether I'd be better off buying firewood. The cutting, hauling and splitting are too much f-ing work."

All summer I race to beat weather events. Cramming work into two weekend days to beat an upcoming storm, I'm used to the hustle. Recent dry days allow me to spread lawn mowing into a reasonable pattern of an hour or two in late afternoon. The grass is drier and short. Murphy's Law prevails, however. The race is on to beat winter which is right around the corner. The naysayers are predicting heavy snow. While dog and cat loll in the garage on a sawdust covered easy chair, I rummage through cans of paint in the basement. The county advertises a fall recycling event on the new radio station. For three Saturdays in September residents can bring in old cans of paint. The former owner left me some rusted beauties in what used to be the girl's basement bathroom. Some of the gallon cans are filled to the brim with usable high quality expensive paint that will match existing trim and board. Thank you, Mr. Tom.

The new log cabin sided breezeway comes complete with surprises. The air space inside the new room is so tightly sealed it resembles an airlock. The formerly exposed outside storm door will not close tightly unless there's a window open in the breezeway or if the garage door is open. Heavy insulation, wood and concrete siding create a twenty degree temperature difference between inside and outdoors. I creak, groan and wrestle two hand made wood deck chairs with horse cut outs on the back rest into the space for a comfortable spot to relax away from mosquitoes and sun. The enclosed space seems smaller than the expansive open area where Johann and I would peel, cut and freeze fresh tomatoes. The last task before winter inside is to install a french door between the studio and living room to keep the main house warmer.

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