by Curt Kovener
It is a gorgeous fall day at the woodland retreat. The temperatures are in the low 70’s-atypical for November-and a steady breeze causes yellow, orange, semi-green and red leaves loosened from the growing season twigs by recent frosts to flitter to the ground.
It is a gorgeous but surreal day as I am writing this column from the back deck at the woodland retreat…on a laptop computer…wirelessly…on the internet.
This is at a location where even cell phones do not get a signal.
The local phone company was successful in connecting the rustic abode to high speed internet. Even though our location is about a thousand feet farther than the Verizon engineers claim they can provide high speed service, thanks to a local phone repair technician who took me on as his quest, I now can do a lot of newspaper work from almost in the middle of Hoosier National Forest. I haven’t tried it yet, but intend to go sit on the dock working on the web just to twist technology and lifestyle even more.
It is a familiar experience to listen to the sounds and the watch the color of the forest but to do so connected to the world-wide web while working is just going to take me a little time to get used to. (I hope Mrs. Lewis, my high school English teacher, will forgive me for ending that last sentence with a preposition. But to write it grammatically correct seemed so awkward.)
A pileated woodpecker works with a rhymic rat-a-tat-tat on a distant tree searching for a meal of insects. In the distance some crows call to one another.
And the warm fall weather brings the lady bugs looking for wintering quarters. I must continually brush them from the computer screen and keyboard as well as the assortment of oak, maple and poplar leaves which gravity brings for a visit.
In addition to the lady bugs, which I can see by the scores flying around silhouetted by the sun, wasps are also looking for shelter for the winter. And it seems that no matter how weather tight you strive to make out human home, the critters always manage to get in.
Miz Mary and I discovered that insecticide products like Home Defense and Bug Stop do a good job of making a barrier against the insects. We spray it around the doors and windows (its water based so it doesn’t stain woodwork), and while it doesn’t keep the insects out. If they do find some way to crawl through, they die within a foot of their entry. It makes them easy to sweep up.
Earlier in the day a couple of deer walked along the ridge opposite the deck stopping occasionally to browse on any few remaining tender green edibles.
I have seen several signs of deer and the impending mating season. Walking along the path I keep mowed in the valley are numerous large bare patches of earth when Mr. Buck is letting potential lady friends know of his imminent availability. Several saplings—and a couple of good size trees—show evidence of damaged bark from antlers being rubbed.
I found another black walnut tree yesterday. It isn’t the first but I am continually amazed at my discoveries in the wilderness. This tree in timberman talk is a money tree: about 16 inches in diameter, straight as a plumb bob and the lowest branch cropping out about 24 feet off the ground. What drew my attention to it was the number of yellow-green walnuts scattered about the brown leaf covered ground. I gathered the nuts figuring I may hull, dry and shell them for a holiday dessert or I may simply plant them for other walnut trees for a future generation to enjoy.
Charley the lab has gotten his exercise the past two days running through the woods checking all the new smells and, despite the coolness of the lake, has taken several swims. He now rests comfortably in the lone and soon disappearing sunny spot on the deck. He snoozes, lifting his head to listen when a chipmunk rustles some leaves near the deck.
I don’t know if working in an atmosphere like this is anything like heaven, but in my estimation it has to be pretty darn close.
While the weather now is gorgeous, I know this is the month before winter begins and that the rains of November rain cold. At that time my computing will move next to the well warmed fireplace. And probably some warming adult beverage.
Now that I have high speed internet, I tell you about all of this so that if you wonder “What ever happened to Curt? I don’t see him anymore.” you will know that I’m not in jail.