I'm stalling. Waiting out the cold weather.
I wake up at the designated time expecting to feel a slurpy dog tongue lapping at my face. She jumped on the bed sometime during the night. She'd still be asleep, if I had not lured her outside at 6 am.
At six in the morning the sky behind the eastern hills is outlined with soft light. I hesitate in letting the cat outside, since it's peak time for night critters to head for home after nocturnal prowling. My cat's no match for an angry coon or hungry coyote. I rationalize that Mandy Mae will chase off intruders with her deep throat, angry growls, therefore, I let the raccoon tailed cat out the back door.
I'm wearing the fleece robe Dawn made for me years ago and nothing else. There's no wind, but 24 degrees isn't comfortable on bare legs. The cat follows the dog everywhere. First, Mandy runs out to the gravel driveway/road and stares down the lane at the woods near the river. I walk down the sidewalk in front of the kitchen window and Mandy follows. The cat sits at the junction of the sidewalk which continues to the wraparound deck while Mandy runs across the white frosted grass leaving a trail of paw prints. I hear a high trilling sound coming from the floodplain near the river. I can't determine if it's the sound I've heard raccoons make when in distress, coyotes or a laughing deer. My chainsaw damaged ears ain't that good anymore. I grab the Pooch. Mandy follows me into the house.
Inside I boot up the triplex of spotlights over the deck and front yard. Mandy jumps on the couch for a dog nap. My usual morning routine is to dump fresh grounds in the Krups coffee machine and feed the kids. I cut up fresh frozen chicken liver and slice off some raw ham steak for the cat. Nine seconds in the microwave heats it to perfection. I slide it next to his dry food and a water bowl. He scarfs up the liver and raw pork.
Mandy Mae gets the remainder of the ham steak, browned in Crisco. The cat being a rescued stray prefers raw meat. Mice are hors d'oeuvres. My neighbor tells me that in the months the Pooch lived under his front porch, he'd find the cat walking the rafters of the barn looking for venison hanging there. In the dark days of February when night time temperatures plunged to -10, the Pooch wandered over to our place. A warm bed and regular meal have kept him here. Dry dog food and scrounged venison weren't much of an attraction. He returns the favor of Purina One, organic chicken livers and cat treats with a never ending supply of head butts and leg grazing. Our house has been mouse proofed. The yard, once overridden by rabbits, is clear of the pests. Mandy helps to ensure we have no trespassers other than the itinerant kind going to the swamp and woods.
We have a clump of silver maples behind the house. Lazy old folks who resided here before us let saplings grow into clumps. On the left side is one tree with three branching main trunks . On the right side is a single silver maple. At the base of this tree the bark is peeled and the bare wood exposed. In the picture, you can see an art deco cross with a gargoyle guardian I planted between the two maples. Over the years I've worried about that maple decaying and falling, God help us, on the house. In wind storms like one last week with gusts over 50 mph, the yard is littered with limbs. I hire two tree trimmers with a bucket truck to take down the tree.
For a reasonable fee they top it and drop the main trunk between two Norway pines toward the west. Dawn and I spend most of Saturday cutting and cleaning up the mess. Phase two, cutting the massive trunk with my big Stihl and storing the maple for next year's firewood will consume a week on and off. There were a few surprises. On the outside the only discernible damage to the tree was the bark at the base. I guessed that sometime in the past, someone had run into the trunk with a car, truck of tractor. As I cut the bigger logs into pieces, I jump back when the 150 pound chunks split in half to reveal a rotted core. One log splits in half and the brown insect ridden core has kernels of corn stored there. If the log chunk hadn't broken in two with the impact of the monster chainsaw dropping it on the ground, one would have only noticed a brown streak across the face of the chunk. I swear there was no entrance where a squirrel or mouse could have gotten into the core of the tree. Dawn and the tree trimmers scoff at my notion that black carpenter ants dragged the corn from the field behind us. Even I can't imagine that an insect could perform such a feat.
I have stalled enough. Mandy will spend another day stealing twigs while the cat will steer clear of the whining din of the chain saws . By late afternoon, I'll collapse into my recliner for 30 minutes of rest and relaxation before I tackle installing a window frame for the second floor bedroom.