Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Operation Ladder Bridge

Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, May 18, 2014

It’s an overcast morning. I’m wishing for the sun.

I water the plants.

Kinky Creek is starting to fill up, to swell.

I heat up some coffee.

The sun is burning through the clouds. Maybe it’ll burn them off completely.

The red tailed hawk is out early, scanning its domain.

After the morning things are tended to, I gear up and meander up to the dam. The water is churning faster, burbling louder. There is debris on the grate. I’ve brought a ski pole with me as an aid. It’s not any help at all. So I pull over the ladder that’s conveniently there—Loring had said they used it, but not how—and lay it between the banks.

Of course this is very safe. What could go wrong?

I inch out until I’m over the grate and reach down to clear off the weeds and sticks. The water is very cold. There’s one reedy plant growing up on the east side of the bank, leaning over the grate, collecting soggy detritus. If I had shears I could cut it back. I have a knife in my backpack, but I don’t feel like hacking the plant up. What else do I have? What I need is some rope. I check my emergency survival pack and find a box of dental floss. Perfect. With a prayer that it’s not going to come undone and destroy the environment, I loop it around the reed and tie it up tight. That should hold it. At least until I come back later this afternoon or tomorrow to clear the grate again.

I’ll have to take one to two trips daily to clear the grate until the creek’s flooding subsides. Probably sometime next week.

I see the bluebird of happiness on my way down.

Back at the Lodge, I heat up the last of today’s coffee, lace it with drops of almond and vanilla extract, and go outside to sit in the sun. The cat comes by for attention and then takes her place under my chair.

A helicopter flies overhead.

Just that quick, Kinky Creek is flooding. Flooding like mad.

At 4:20 I go back up to the dam. This is not the gentle lapping into the grate that I’d witnessed only this morning. This is wild, cyclonic, suctioning, and malevolent release. I can’t even see the metal bars of the dam grating. I’m glad I had a practice run this morning. Glad I brought latex gloves to protect my hands as I stick my arms in up to the elbows in cold, cold water. I hardly know if I’m clearing the grill, it’s so rapidly covered with gushing water. I do my best.

As if I haven’t had enough to do with water, I go to the Lodge and wash my temporal form and then do the dishes.

I’ve swept up the mud and dirt twice already today. Glad I’m the only one to track it in.

Dinner is ½ a can of peaches and a bowl of rice, garbanzo beans, and hummus. Lunch was the same thing.

Phinehas calls. It’s Sunday.

I see the beaver in Kinky Creek. I wonder what he thinks of the flooding.

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, May 19, 2014

It took me a long time to fall asleep last night. And when sleep finally came it was busy-dreamed and light. I wake up at 6:00 something, and again at 7:00. At 7:30 I just get up.

If I get moving quick enough I can be up and back from the dam in time to check the system in the generator shed at 10:00.

I’m not that motivated.

Besides, it’d gotten down in the low 20s overnight and there’s frost on the ground.

I see the bald eagle.

On the way across the field to the dam I see a bird of prey with blue wings. What is that?

My dam trip starts at 10:12 and lasts until 11:47—there and back again. The dam grate is pretty well covered in stick and weeds and sticks and reeds. I’ve brought better, thicker gloves this time, to keep my hands both warm and protected.

The dental floss is still tied to the reed, but the reed is dragged down under the force of water, completely submerged. I break off the reed sticks that hang over the grating after all. Guess I don’t need shears or a knife. When I’m done clearing the grate, I sort through the mess on the ground until I find the floss—pack out what you pack in, and all that.

I decide that if I’m going to be tired from today’s chores then I’m going to be really tired. From 12:00 to 3:30 I chop wood. I chop enough wood that I think I might not have to chop any more while I’m here. Not if the weather stays this warm.

I take an hour break to eat and sit numbly still before going back up the hill to the dam. There’s not much to clear this afternoon.

Two beavers are busy in the river. Busy, busy guys.

I get cleaned up. Wash my hair.

It’s almost time for the weather. After I record the temperatures and do my evening outside check I’m doing nothing. I’ve expended all my energy for today.

I see the beavers again when I check the generator shed and to do the weather walk around.

You know how there are kids that fall asleep while eating? That’s how I feel eating my dinner, that if I don’t pay attention and stay alert I’ll just fold over, over my broccoli and fall asleep.

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I’m a continuing line of bruises, scrapes, and pain. My arms are much stronger. So are my legs.

The internet is not connecting. There is no access. A computer restart fixes the problem.

At 10:05 I head up to the dam. Although I’ve walked up at a snail’s pace it only takes me 22 minutes. Only two minutes longer than usual. Maybe I always go this slowly. There is hardly any debris on the grate.

Back at the Lodge, I take out the trash. Work some of this hard puzzle I’m working. I don’t really know how the afternoon gets by.

I’m just exhausted. Sore, tired, and incapable of making decisions.

My friend Jill calls.

I eat broccoli for lunch.

My mom calls.

I email Karen and ask if it’s possible to be taken to Billings, MT rather than Jackson, WY when I’m taken out of here. It looks like the summer crew will arrive on June 2nd. If the roads are good. A man named Porgy is coming out this Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (Karen said she didn’t know which day) to test them, to make a trial run. Karen says that Billings is a possibility if I can stick around until she leaves the Darwin on June 8th or 9th. So I buy a Greyhound ticket to Oregon for June 10th. I spend too much frustrating time trying to print out my ticket on the HP Laserjet 3200 whose driver is not recognized by my computer. Oh technology. 

It rains a little. 

There’s a rainbow on the east mountains.

I turn off the music I’ve had on all day just in time to hear the thunder.

God, I’m tired.

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