A Sore Back Saturday & Sunday

by Curt Kovener       

To borrow a phrase from Mister Rogers, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” this past weekend. With temperatures hitting 70° for this first time this year it was a great time to be outdoors. And there is a lot of outdoors at the wilderness retreat.

Last July some straight line winds blew down a number of trees particularly along the drive and creek. Saturday and Sunday were spent cutting off smaller branches and chipping them into mulch then cutting the rest of the limbs and trunks into firewood. Then after stacking the wood for later splitting, there was raking of leaves and twigs and burning for final clean-up.

I observed that even though Mother Nature was most cruel to her woodland, there are signs of re-newed re-greening in her wilderness this early spring.

Running a chainsaw and chipper is noisy and I was wearing some ear protection; the kind that had a radio built in. It is rather incongruous to be dealing with noisy gas engines, sawing and chipping while listening to classical music but I find it a soothing counter point of sound.

Charley, who usually sleeps the whole day through, likes to be out to play in the creeks and explore the wilderness. He was gone for a long period of time while I cut and chipped but eventually came back with something in his mouth.

I could tell by his prancing gait he was proud of what he found. It was a deer hip bone he was gnawing on. I suspect this was a whitetail which some hunter wounded and couldn’t find. Charley, and who knows how many other critters, had dined on various deer parts since its wasted demise.

The drudgery of dragging cut limbs to the chipper and feeding them in to the mechanical beast took its toll on my back, legs and arms even as I watched the mulch pile grow. When my steps turned to plodding and stumbling, I took a break to enjoy the silence of the woods.

Charley kept on gnawing his new found bone.

After six downed trees became two piles of mulch, I began raking leaves and twigs. Making two small piles, I started a fire which I fed with leaf rake full portions at a time.

It would flame up and settle down with each serving.

When I was finished I sat on a nearby log to make sure the now smoldering fire was safe to leave unattended and to listen to the silence. Charley, finished with his nature found bone, came by for an ear rub.

It was then that I realized he and I had pretty much engaged in the same activity. We took something of nature that was otherwise going to go to waste and put it to another purpose.

At dusk, when we sat on the rear deck to listen to the barred owls begin calling out their territory, Charley slumbered peacefully while I contemplated the day with a chilled adult beverage.

We both agreed, “It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”