I have never found a companion as companionable as solitude.
Henry David Thoreau
When Libby and I were out at Roundrock on Saturday, our plan was to cut back the encroaching trees and branches along the road and then later have a weenie roast. I gave you an account of the relative success and failure of the former in yesterday’s blog post.
As we were (I was) cutting the branches I could reach and/or manage with the hand saw, we (I) could hear the sound of heavy machinery working at Good Neighbor Brian’s place next door. He’d just had his septic tank and lines installed two weeks before. Well drilling was to come next, followed by electricity. Things are moving at Brian’s place, and it sounded like something was happening while we were near.
Since the tree clearing work wasn’t happening, I thought we could go over to Brian’s and watch the big machine we could hear doing its work. And so we did, but as we approached and peered through the trees, we couldn’t see any big machinery.
All we could see was Good Neighbor Brian on his lawn tractor, moving the grass around his trailer. He has a real tractor and a brush hog for the meadow (and our road), but he uses the lawn tractor for close cutting work near to his living area.
When Brian saw us approach, he drove over and turned off the mower. Then he hopped off and came over to say howdy. We chatted a long time. The well digging and electricity work were still to come. The big machinery we had heard was merely his lawn tractor. Hmmm.
Anyway, as we chatted, he mentioned that he had to show us the new toy his wife had bought for herself. In fact, he couldn’t tell us what it was; he had to show it to us. So he trotted off through the trees and scrub to the area he has cleared for his equipment storage, and soon we heard an engine fire up. A moment later a truck came around the trees. His wife had bought herself a Toyota Tacoma four-door pickup, just like Prolechariot, only hers was white instead of screaming red. When we had all gone to lunch together a month before, I drove us in the Prolechariot. Brian said that she was very impressed with it (how could she not be?) and decided to get herself one. We visited for a while longer, but the weenie roast was foremost on our minds, so we made our excuses and drove back to our forest.
We have two (well, three) fire rings in our woods. The one near the lake is overgrown and needs to be cleared, so we planned to cook lunch there. The grill we cook on is at the fire ring by the new campsite, and since we forgot to bring the skewers, we decided to snatch the grill. Our campsite is “deep” in the forest, at the end of a twisting road with an entrance mostly hidden by a falling cedar. We were where no one would find us, and while Libby sat in one of the comfy chairs, I prowled the campsite to see what changes nature had wrought in our absence. Nothing much had changed. I had my camera in hand, and I was thinking about walking over to the spot where we had planted the plum trees when I heard something.
It wasn’t Libby. It wasn’t Good Neighbor Brian either. It was a man approaching us through the trees. In fact, it was two men. It happened to be Good Neighbor Tom and his brother, Good Neighbor Fred. Somehow they knew we were “deep” in the forest at our hidden campsite, and they were walking right toward us.
If our little community of landowners can said to have any movers and shakers, Tom and Fred would be the ones. They own the largest number of acres. They know everyone. They generally coordinate any projects. And the even have electricity at their cabin!
In a rare moment (probably iced tea induced) I had volunteered to write to all of the landowners along our common road asking for some money so we could improve it. They wanted to talk to me about the types of improvements we should have done. (Mostly, I think, they wanted to make sure I didn’t blow any funds I collected on laying more gravel on the first big hill until after we had the drainage ditch problem there resolved.)
So we chatted a while about this and that and the other thing. I asked them how they knew so unerringly where Libby and I were when they came, and they said they could see the Prolechariot though the trees. (Remember, screaming red. Time to move the campsite even deeper into the forest.) Tom and Fred told us not to be strangers and to please come visit them at their cabin sometime. Even if they weren’t there we were welcome to use the toilet (!), the shower (!), the beer in the refrigerator (!), the satellite television (!), and even the full capacity washer and drier (!).
As we chatted, we saw Good Neighbor Brian drive into my woods in his wife’s Tacoma and continue along, not having seem the screaming red Prolechariot “deep” in the trees. Well, we thought he would get to the end of the road by the lake, not see us, and then come back, and we’d be on the road waiting for him. It took Brian “forever” to return. I think he must have gotten down to the lake and then got out and walked around, hollering our names for a while.
But we finally met him along the road, and so we all had another good, long chat about this and that and the other thing. Brian is determined to use his jack hammer to clear some of the bedrock that is frustrating our drainage ditch improvements, so they got to talk about that. At a certain point, tools become toys. Brian said he had come by to see if we needed anything in town because he was going there. I think he wanted us to join him for lunch, but we still had a notion of a weenie roast in our minds.
Anyway, we finally broke up. Brian went to town. Fred went back to Kansas City. Tom went back to their cabin. And Libby and I went back to the fire ring by the lake, with the grill in hand.
I mentioned that this fire ring was overgrown, and it was, but it was also hampered by the large tree I had brought down on top of it a few weeks before (when the chainsaw was cooperating). Libby used the grass whip to clean out the scrub while I used the hand saw to cut some of the branches of the fallen tree out of our way.
After all of the visiting and working, the afternoon had progressed, and we found that it really was too late to get started on a weenie roast. We hadn’t even begun collecting our tinder, kindling, and fuel, and I figured it would be another hour before we could start cooking. So we decided to scrap the weenie roast until the next visit. (We had, after all, spruced up the fire ring.) So we packed our gear and started to drive out.
We decided, however, to visit Tom and Fred’s cabin to see if their fantastic boasts about it could possibly be true. Goodness, they were! And more. Those boys have everything, including two soft-looking couches, five beds, a wood-burning stove, an adequate kitchen, and a metal storage building that is big enuf to move their whole cabin into!
After we had fully explored the cabin and all of the camp around it, we climbed back into the truck and headed out. On the way, we met Tom coming in, so we sat parked beside each other in the road and chatted even more. After that, we started leaving again only to meet up with yet another truck coming our way. This was Good Neighbor Randy, whose father actually lives at the entrance to the former cattle ranch and keeps an eye on everyone coming and going. We chatted with Good Neighbor Randy for a while as well. And then it was time to leave. We hoped we wouldn’t see anyone else on the way out.
But we did. As we drove up the big hill, there was Good Neighbor Brian coming up behind us. He flashed his lights as though wanting us to stop, so we did. And we chatted a while. He wanted to tell us all about the effort he had made that afternoon with his jack hammer on the bedrock in the ditch. Brian has all the tools, and you could tell he was especially happy about the jack hammer. He explained to us that he would be able to do the work but that it would take all day, and require some helpers. In fact, he thought, I ought to organize a work day for everyone who could come out to help clear the ditches.
- Autumnal Equinox: day and night are equal in length.
- Early wintering sparrows arrive.