Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, April 6, 2014
In the morning after I water the nine houseplants, I sit at the table and fill in the answers on my crossword puzzle while drinking the coffee which I’ve almost got to my liking. It’s a matter of correctly coupling the grounds measurement with the proper method, French Press, single drip, or whatever chancy method Karen’s husband Greg used to make a giant pot all at once. It’s times like these that being a coffee snob doesn’t work to my advantage. The French Roast blend helps. I single drip it into the French Press container. It’s drinkable.
I leave some for later and go strap on snowshoes. I’m heading up to Industrial Park where the 1000 gallon unleaded fuel tank sits. One of my weekly chores is to check that it’s not leaking. Since no one has been doling out gas, and Greg had checked it with me before they left, it’s more a chance to get some exercise and brisk air than anything else. Everything is fine. I sit on an unburied fencepost and listen for birds, for the sound of the wind in the trees.
When I get back to the Lodge I find the cat has left me a gift. A poor, little, dead owl placed sacrificially in its feathery glory on the front porch. Although I’m not one to look a dead gift owl in the mouth, I’m not sure what to do. Is the cat trying to bribe me? Repay me in kind for leaving her food? Tame me into doing her bidding? Maybe it was her breakfast and she got interrupted. Sorry, little owl, I whisper. Unsure of how to deal with it, I leave it where it lays. After all, the ground is frozen, I can’t bury it. And for now the cat is the only predator near the house. That I know of.
With thoughts of the frailty of life and the gentle beauty of death on my mind, I go dig out twelve logs to chop into a burnable size later. This process involves a shovel, some kicking, and a bit of swearing. Short of breath, I line the logs up and appreciate the fruit of my labor.
With the plant watering and the fuel tank checking done my official Sunday chores are completed. The wood prep will make my tomorrow easier. The rest of the day is mine to while away. I pass the owl on my way back into the Lodge.
I make a batch of granola and work one third of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
Unable to just leave it, and with as much reverence as I can muster, I transfer the little, dead owl onto a piece of bark and take it away from the house. I place the bark on the snow. Rest well, little owl, I think.
Night falls and I go up to bed. The moon is almost half full. I see it through the skylight.
Caretaker’s Log, Monday, April 7, 2014
Monday is a day of finishing things. I finish the vampire-witch-pixy book I’ve been reading. I finish the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
At a loss of what to do inside, I go chop 28 pieces of wood out of the batch of logs I’d set out the day before. I spend a good portion of time catching my breath and adjusting the log on the chopping block back into position. Simple as hammering a nail, my foot. I load the wood into a little sled and haul it to the porch where I throw the pieces up on the woodpile.
Wondering if I’d done wrong by the cat I retrieve the dead owl and leave it in the cat’s space. She sniffs it, looks at me, and then leaves it. It must be for me after all. Thanks a lot, cat.
While I’m still dressed for the cold, I go get some lemons, a can of garbanzo beans, two onions, and some carrots out of the root cellar.
The temperature goes up to 37 degrees and I’m upset by the melting snow.
I don’t need the fire for most of the day.
Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, April 8, 2014
The temperature is 43 degrees by noon. The dog poop (courtesy of Karen’s puppy Boss) is showing in the melted snow next to the porch. It’s starting to thaw and to smell. “Snow covers a multitude of sins,” I say out loud. I take out the trash, clean up some of the poop, and pound some nails flush into the porch boards after I trip over them twice.
My second cross country ski lesson goes very well. I review flat ground technique and learn to go uphill. I should have watched more of the cross country events in the Winter Olympics. I feel like I’d be even better at this if I had. Too bad I’ll have to wait another four years for that. I only fall once, at the end. Next lesson, downhill.
Hot and sweaty from my ski lesson and the sweltering temps, I take a bath and then do my laundry in the tub. I will say that this warm weather is good for drying out my clothes.
On the ground just past the railing where my clothes are flapping in the wind the owl is still on its burial bark. I put on my boots and take it out beyond the not so frozen woodpile and set it there for good this time. On my way back to the house I line up another set of logs to chop later. That’s another thing the warm weather is good for—saving me from digging out frozen logs. Logically following that thought, if it gets warm enough I won’t need the logs at all.
Spring flies are already buzzing about. I’d like to give them as little reason to hang around as possible. So I go find some latex gloves and clean up as much more of Boss’s mess as I can. Then I sanitize my hands and drink a shot of rum as if it were an amnesiac, an internal sanitizer.
At seven I go to record the weather and measure the snow depth. We (the cat and I) lost two inches to compaction and melting today. Spring is going to be one huge, wet mess.