Thursday, February 3, 2011


Crow Magnum
file photo
Seven Roads Gallery Inc.

It's after three pm and I haven't hauled any firewood.  Earlier in the morning, I call my neighbor and ask him to plow a path for the sled I use to haul firewood from the woodshed to the house.

"The moron who designed the sled," I tell him on the phone, " Didn't think about the 2X4 undercarriage of the wood box on oak runners dragging in deep snow."

The moron is moi.  "He didn't have no degree in engineering, did he?" the neighbor quips.

"Nah," I reply.  ""The BS in Political Science does me one hell of a lot of good out here."  "At least I know what a solipsism is,"

I lie.  In theory I don't know the correct spelling nor can I find any fractured version of my imaginative phrasing in my  848 page pocket Merriam Webster.

Solipsism: a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also : extreme egocentrism .

Now we both know the meaning of a word I'll never use.

After some hasty scribbling in blogger, I put on long johns and three layers, muck boots and heavy socks and shovel snow for an hour an a half.  At one o'clock a representative for our US Senator is holding court at the library.  Thinking that there'll be a town meeting of sorts, I grab a chair, hand Mandy some Milk-bones and a rawhide chew and introduce myself to the new Vernon County sheriff who's discussing law enforcement issues with the balding 63 year old man from Herb Kohl's office.

A geeky looking farmer walks in holding a manila folder and a copy of the Lacrosse Tribune.  He sits next to me. Without the Puritan getup, he looks like the cartoon drawings of Brom Bones from the Disney version of the Ghost of Sleepy Hollow. 

My chance to pontificate comes after the sheriff begs leave.  I tell about the need for a senior citizens center in the area.  The man listens politely as I add biographical information about myself and praise the work of my library angel who has single handedly made the library a state of the art facility far beyond what one would expect for a town of 395 people. 

He thanks me for coming, hands me a business card and I realize he's there to listen to the gripes of locals privately. 

Mandy and I head home for lunch, a quick snooze and running firewood.  Oh, the life of a country gentleman.  

I look out the kitchen window and see a crow scarfing up sunflower seed under the bird feeder.  That IS unusual for a crow to be that close to the house.  I let Mandy out. She spies the crow and gives chase.  That's when I notice the crow can't fly.  It has a broken right wing which droops as it hops over the snow.  Mandy follows at a respectful distance as the crow makes its way toward the east fence line.  I cancel any thoughts of rescue, since my previous disastrous experience of dumping the ash pan from the wood stove along the fence line.  "Poor crow", I think to myself. "You'll be dead by the next morning."

The ash pan is a long flat pan which is usually hot.  I don work gloves and carefully step over the berm created by the snowplow.  Once over the mound of snow, I step into the front field into a deep hole of snow and fall flat on my face. The snow is so deep I can't feel the ground underneath to push myself up.  Avoiding a wet pan of ashes next to me I wallow like a hog, chuckling at my stupidity, hoping no one I know comes down the highway. 

Mandy chases birds while I load the sled with oak blocks and maple salvaged from various tree trimmings. The forecast calls for minus 15 degrees Wednesday night (-20 at 7 am).  My neighbor drives down with his tractor and I give him two pork shoulder roasts for his trouble.  He says it'll be  welcome change from the elk and venison winter fare.  We chat briefly about stupid stuff.  When he's not using a blade to scrape snow, he hauls large round bales of hay for his horses.  He tells me about hauling one bale along the highway gravel strip when a pickup truck passes him, spraying the tractor and dousing him with an generous layer of slush.

"Asshole," I exclaim.  "Yeah, he could've avoided the slush row on the blacktop, but didn't," Ron says.

"Isn't it about time someone ran over your mailbox?" I toss out.  "Yeah, I guess I'm about due for that," he says.  The last time someone took out his mailbox, the young driver rolled the car, ripped across the highway, smashed the wood post for the mail box and ended up in his front yard. 



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