Saturday, February 16, 2008

Next Winter’s Cord

A small aside: the tree-wound goop turned out to be a kind of tar slurry; it came in a can with its own screwcap applicator, like a large can of paper cement, and about as tricky but much blacker. The directions said to avoid contact with clothes or the skin, and to wash with soap and water to remove. I have washed at least ten times with soap and water, and it is about as washable as any tar is. I should have suspected when I read the bottom line on the can: “Not responsible for any results, even if used according to directions.” Remember when items actually were guaranteed to do what you paid them to do, and when the instructions actually were meant to be helpful as opposed to avoiding a lawsuit? But I digress…

I’m still “processing” my supply of next year’s wood (via the felled tree) -- most of the log slices are under tarps, about two thirds of the limbs are piled in the corner of the yard -- providing a nice impromptu fence to keep out neighbor dogs and their “contributions” -- and the sawdust and mossy twigs provide an impressive barrier to any rototilling, as I try to create the new vegetable garden. Three fourths of the yard had to be “cleared” of tree in order to put this garden in, but it’s almost done now. The clearing, not the garden.

I have never been one to start projects at the basic level. Even as a child, I would turn to the back of the book and start with the “advanced” projects, figuring I’d pick up the basics along the way… my success rate was probably over 50%, depending on your definition of “success”. I rarely ended up with projects that looked like the picture, but that was true even when I did start with the basics. Anyway, this is also true of the garden -- not content to have a large vegetable garden, I have upped the ante by making it a circular garden, or -- to be technical -- a four-circuit labyrinth. I have always wanted a labyrinth in my yard, since I started walking them. And since I hadn’t had a yard of my own since I’d started walking them, this was my first chance. And I didn’t hesitate. I found one small enough for the yard, yet big enough to garden in -- 36 feet across, giving me narrow walkways but decent-sized beds. But no rototiller-straight lines… luckily I’d bought a farm-grade spade. Now if only I’d developed farm-grade glutes!

Over the past week, I have been “sketching” the pattern on the ground, using a center pole, a long string and the sawdust that was so handily lying around. As I am a little old to be able to walk around in circles, bent double, for hours, I have to take breaks, doing other tasks that allow me to stand upright (such as dragging the limbs to the “barricades”, as I have taken to calling them). And then I have been taking breaks from the breaks, as my back has informed that it will break if I do not. After enough of the circular pattern was sketched, I have been laying out the walkways using the moss that was also lying around in great quantities, from the felled tree. The moss felt like I was removing pelts from very narrow sheep or something - soft, wet and kind of held together like snake-skin or pelts. As I bent over the logs gathered this green fluff, I wondered if I were being frugal, or crazy. Then I priced little “plugs” of groundcover moss from the nursery, and decided it was frugal even if it was crazy!

My neighbor has walked by several times and tried to be helpful by telling me what an idiot I was not to just burn all the “scrap”. That was the advice of the woodchopper, too. I told them both that I intend to burn them -- but where it will do some good, in my woodstove next year! I suppose if you live in the country with trees all around, you might get spoiled and consider a large backyard “campfire” to be easier than sawing up small limbs… but then, we city folk use and toss plastic bags like they grow on trees -- at least tree limbs really do! I don’t think my neighbor has seen the circular garden yet -- I await his comments… or guffaws.

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