Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Morning of Life and Death

Caretaker’s Log, Thursday, May 7, 2015

The storm I felt yesterday was a snowstorm. It's here. There's already four inches and it's still falling. The world is blanketed once again in white. I don't mind a winter regression.

There's a bird trapped in the cat’s screened porch. The cat, surprisingly, is leaving it alone. I take the fish net—which is more aptly now a bird net—and go out there. The poor bird is frantic. It makes distressed calls and flaps up against the screens. I guide it down with the net and take it in hand. It's afraid. It bites my gloved finger with a panting desperation. "It's okay," I tell it.

I step out onto the porch. The bird sits in my palm, panting even when I get it to the open air, still holding on to my finger with an unrelenting beak. I look down at it, afraid it's hurt. Suddenly, it realizes its freedom and takes flight.

I sit on the log and pet the cat. She's in a snow made feisty mood. She crouches at the edge of the porch and I wonder what she's doing. Then she pounces into the grass. Pounces again and comes back up with a mouse. Not my normal wide-eyed, big eared mice. This is a different kind. Poor thing. I save a bird but am not quick enough for the mouse. The cat lays it beside my foot and I pick it up.

In my gloved palm, the mouse lets out a gasping breath and then a second one. Its very last. It dies there in my hand. "I'm sorry, little guy."

For the whole circle of life bit I should let the cat keep her prize. But I can't. Not this morning. I take the mouse and leave it out behind the woodpile on a piece of funerary bark. The cat follows me out. I have to distract her as I leave the mouse. Rest in peace. Sorry I wasn't there for you.

A multitude of robins line the fence. Their red vests stand out bright against the snow.

I have my coffee. Start the fire. Work a crossword. I eat granola for breakfast. I post a blog.

After all of that, I go to the back storeroom and do an inventory of the meat in the freezer. Karen has said she will give me good ideas of things to cook for the soon to arrive workers. It's been a long time since I've cooked meat and she has told me that the key to camp cooking is protein and carbs, hot and fast meals, fresh bread and meat. I email her the list.

I download W.P. Kinsella’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy from the library and listen to it while I work the jigsaw puzzle inside the lodge and the snow falls all day outside.

I talked to JoAnn. It's her birthday.

The day warms up enough to melt the accumulation of snow.

It's a pleasant and laid back day. I won't have many more like this starting next week when the crews arrive.

I eat the leftover stir fried noodles from last night for a late afternoon lunch-snack.

I call my grandmother.

Then it’s more of the audio book and puzzling.

I record the weather. 1.04 inches of precipitation. The most I've ever recorded.

I have scrambled eggs, cheese, and canned peaches for dinner.

I write a tiny bit on a short story.

Watch a show.

It continues to snow.

By ten o'clock the snow has stopped. The clouds cover up all the stars.

Caretaker’s Log, Friday, May 8, 2015

The morning is bright through the skylights. White sky reflecting off white snow. I'm awake in the seven o'clock hour. I can't fall back to sleep so I get up. All the morning things are finished before 8:15.

There's a bird of prey sitting on the fence post. The Sandhill cranes walk right past it. They pause in front of it and their presence makes the bird fly away.

I have pancakes for breakfast. I top them with warm strawberries and maple syrup.

An eagle flies in and settles in a tree just across the main road. I go outside and get some pictures.

Most of the day I spend listening to music, writing a story, and working the impossible parts of this jigsaw puzzle. It's all blue and the shapes are all too similar.

Throughout the day, storms come and go.

Late in the afternoon, restless, I have to get outside and move. The sun peeks out for a moment. The cat and I take a slow stroll around the fence line in the soggy grass trying to avoid the patches of soft mud. There are two pairs of Sandhill cranes in the area. I watch them graze and listen to their horn like calls. The cat and I get over to the meadow just in time to see a herd of elk go up the hill toward the professor's cabin. There are nine or ten of them.

When I add some food to the cat’s dish I notice a dead mouse in the cat's house. I don't know if I should leave it there. I don't know if the cat will eat it or she's just on a mouse killing spree. Right or wrong, in the end, I take the dead mouse out behind the woodpile and wish it the chance to rest in peace.

As I get back to the porch it starts to pelt down tiny snow pellets. They come down in a fury. From the cat's porch, the cat and I watch it. Then I go inside.

I call my grandmother as a cook up some rice and salmon.

I eat.

I work some more of the puzzle. It's hard. I listen to more of Kinsella’s story. Record the weather. Only 0.21 inches of precipitation today. It felt like more.

I've already gotten my writing in for the day so I watch three shows in a row. Open up my last box of wine.

When I head up to bed the skylights show new snowfall. I didn't see it come down in the dark.

Caretaker’s Log, Saturday, May 9, 2015

I'm feeling ready for sunshine. I've enjoyed the snowstorms, but now the gray clouded sky works a melancholy on me. I don't know if the clouds will clear today or not.

I do some miscellaneous things. I've got to make a grocery list of thing for Porgy or Loring to bring. I also want to have a good meal schedule prepared. So I go out and inventory the canned stuff out in the root cellar. The cat comes with me. I'm starting to feel a bit of pressure with the idea of cooking three meals for a bunch of workers for a month. It'll be a breeze, right?

I fix the bent over wind flag, tightening the connection with duct tape. I've been meaning to do this for days.

I finish listening to the audio book by W.P. Kinsella. He's the same author who wrote the story Field of Dreams was based off of. It's a good story. I enjoy it well enough.

I plan out a month’s worth of breakfasts for up to 12 people. That's the easiest meal for me to plan. I'm getting a handle on the dinners. It's lunch that has me at a loss. I hardly ever eat an official lunch myself.

I work in a few pieces of the impossible puzzle. It's almost not fun.

Feeling the need to freshen up, I go up and take a bath.

I eat a can of sliced peaches for a snack. That's what I mean about lunch. It's usually something like that.

I read through some cookbooks to get ideas.

The sky clears up enough to let some blue show. I go out and walk around with the cat. I need to stretch my legs. It's muddy and I'm not in the mood to take a longer trek, but I am in the mood to move. A pair of ducks flaps up out of the river startling me as much as I must have startled them. The east wind is brisk and cold. It feels much chillier than 41 degrees.

I bring in some wood.

I talk with my grandmother.

I make an omelet and pan fried potatoes for dinner.

I work some on a short story that I've titled Voodoo.

Now, finally, as dusk begins to fall the sky reveals huge swathes of blue. Over in the west the setting sun turns the clouds a purple-blue and peach.

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