two turtles

May 13th, 2015

turtle one

Through the winter months we won’t see a single turtle at Roundrock, which is as it should be. But starting in May and through the summer, it seems that we see them whenever we go for a walk in the woods.

We saw this fellow (judging by the red eyes, I think it’s a boy) on the south side of the lake. Impressive red color and a curious nature. Most turtles will retreat into their shells when we pick them up.

turtle two

This turtle was on the north side of the lake and was more shy. Judging from the chunk missing from the shell behind the head, I’d say this one had reason to be shy.

Wayne, over at Niches, takes photos of every turtle he’s had the pleasure to know. And he catalogs them by the markings on their shells, giving them names, and even encountering old friends over the years. The Florida Cracker, at Pure Florida, has gopher tortoises on his land, and he’s rightfully proud of them.

I have box turtles, and that’s all right with me, too.

Running with the Cows half marathon 2015 ~ recap

May 12th, 2015

cows kit

The wheels fell off on this one.

I didn’t feel right about this half marathon for the week before and certainly the morning of. I can’t put my finger on why, but I suppose such a vague feeling can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I don’t know.

Running with the Cows was the third in the Heartland 39.3 Series that I had signed up for last summer. I expected this series of half marathons to be tough, and I was surprised when I managed the first two races, on consecutive weekends, with my legs and lungs still intact. I thought I would be destroyed by two such long runs so close together, yet I wasn’t.

As I reflect, I think Running with the Cows went so badly for me because of a perverse, oil-and-water mix of over confidence and lack of confidence.

I should tell you right now that I did finish the half marathon. In fact, of the eight half marathons I’ve now run, my time was better than three of them and very close to another. I found a kick at the end and ran across the finish line as fast as I could, but when I did, I was ready to be done with it, to walk away and not look back. Such was the mess I felt it to be.

I’ve said here several times that I’m trying to make the half marathon my distance. I want to get confident and competent with it. I want to feel assured that I can lace up and accomplish that distance, not without effort and concentration, but with a knowledge that it is in me. I also noted above that I had done surprisingly well on the two prior halfs in this series (Rock the Parkway and the Garmin Half). I think that’s where my over confidence came from. I think I believed I had reached my mastery point with the half marathon. I think I believed that Running with the Cows would be simple, especially since I got two weeks of rest before it. I trained, but maybe with too much confidence and not enuf doubt. Nor did I take my fueling seriously enuf. In the week before the other races, I was slamming a bottle of Gatorade each day, eating more carbs, rolling my leg muscles, and getting more rest. I didn’t do that with Cows. That was a mistake.

But I was also talking myself into a near panic about this run. I had driven the course two weeks prior and saw the long, rolling hills that were on the agenda. They aren’t steep, but they are long. (This is not in the flat part of Kansas that every thinks is the case statewide.) I dreaded those hills, and somewhere within me I “knew” I couldn’t run them, that I would have to walk at least part of them to get to the top. I don’t know if I would have run better if I hadn’t known those hills were coming. If I had gone out on the course as an innocent and just taken whatever came, maybe I would have done better because I wouldn’t have already excused myself from tackling them.

Running sure can be a road to self discovery. Or self doubt.

So all of that was swirling in what passes for my mind as I got to the race early Saturday morning. The forecast had called for thunderstorms then, with up to a half an inch of rain (“except higher amounts in thundershowers”) and I resigned myself to getting wet and perhaps cold. When I rose on Saturday (3:15 of course) and let the dogs out, it was 63 degrees, and though I knew that might drop some before race time, I was comfortable that at least I would not be cold. Parking was going to be iffy because we would be using farm fields, and they were already sodden from the week of storms before. We took my truck rather than the little red Honda just in case we needed the four-wheel drive. But it turned out that we were directed to park on the side of the road far from the start and then get bussed in. I didn’t like that at first, especially since Libby, who would be waiting as I ran, would be far from the car if she needed anything (like shelter from the storm). This arrangement didn’t turn out to be a problem however.

So we rode the school bus in and got off at the Catholic church that was hosting the runs. (There was also a 5K.) We passed through the school cafeteria, where they were already setting up for the big, well-regarded after party. I looked around for people I knew but didn’t see any. I used the portable toilet three times (always prudent and evidently very necessary this time). I wandered about more. I found Libby on a bench, passing the time with a runner from Iowa. (There were runners from 46 states and several countries. That’s pretty good for an event having only 1500 runners altogether.) I waited for the time to pass. The sun had risen but was behind the gray clouds. The latest forecast said the rain would likely hold off until 8:00, so I’d be at least a few miles into the run before that particular misery visited.

Eventually I got myself into the starting chute and waited. There were no waves or corrals. We would start as a mass and sort ourselves out later. I was far enuf back that I could not hear whatever announcements there were (or might have been). A drone flew over. (These are getting ubiquitous at races.) I did hear a countdown, but several minutes after that, our mass of humanity had not moved. Then I heard another countdown and realized the first must have been for some special runners. Generally wheelchair racers are let fly before the rest of us. But we were finally off, and I started my watch just as I crossed the mats. On my way.

We left the school parking lot and got on the two-lane blacktop road that a hundred blocks to the north (in my neighborhood) swells to eight lanes and is lousy with traffic. Out here in the rurals, it was just a country road. A country road with a mile and a half uphill incline. It wasn’t long before I found myself crowding against a thick pack of people who were taking up the entire width of the two lanes. It took me a while to realize that I was stuck behind a pace group. In part because of my negative self talk, I didn’t intend to run this race hard or fast, but this pace group was going more slowly than my legs and lungs wanted. Compounding this was the chatty nature of the lead pacer. Her job is to encourage those who have chosen to run with her group, to advise them on how to tackle the hills, how to get through the water stations, how to outsmart their fatigue. And she was doing this, keeping up a nearly constant patter of words to the people depending on her to get them across the finish line at a given time. And boy was it annoying to me!

I figured if I could get ahead of this group and put some distance between us, I could still fall back to their pace if necessary and yet not have to listen to the encouraging words. So that was my plan. To get around them, I had to run on the narrow gravel shoulder, and then when I was back on the road, I had to hustle to get that distance. Because annoying patter!

My plan worked. Soon I could only hear the pacer when she had her group shout out at each mile marker. This was the last time in the race when I felt like anything was working for me.

At mile 3 I took my first walking break. As much as I really did not want to do this, I didn’t see how I could keep running, not with the many long hills still to come. It’s possible that I had been running too fast. I wanted to leave that chatty pacer well behind, and regardless, I wanted to finish faster than her promised time, even with a slower run for me this time. So maybe running too fast to get ahead of her had caused me to walk too soon, which would allow her, ironically, to close the distance between us. Plus, walking revealed to me that I wasn’t (yet) a master of the half marathon, at least not on a challenging course.

This was not my only walking break for the remaining ten miles. There were plenty. And as the miles passed, the breaks came more frequently. Had I been on a flat course that morning, I think I still would have needed (or taken) walking breaks. My overconfidence blended with my lack of confidence was visiting me repeatedly.

I ate my GU every three miles. I took the water and Gatorade at each of the (well staged and staffed) water stations. I ran all of the flats and downhills, and I powered as far as I could up those long hills. But I was disappointed with myself. I was disappointed that I was exhausted and panting. I was not going to turn in a good time, and all I really wanted by the halfway point was to stay ahead of the chatty pacer.

The halfway point was a turnaround. We had climbed what seemed like a two-mile hill to get there, and I relished the thought of returning that distance going downhill. As I made the turn and saw the runners behind me still heading toward it, I was encouraged to see how many there still were. I guess I wasn’t as pathetic as I feared.

By this point, any goodwill or milk of human kindness was drained from me. I didn’t care about much except finding the flattest part of the road and sticking to it. Often this required me to run in the empty lane (we runners having thinned enuf that most were just using one lane). All along the run, service vehicles were zipping up and down the course, mostly staying on the shoulder (when there was one) but sometimes coming into the lanes that were supposed to be dedicated to us runners. I don’t know what it is that was so urgent, but plenty of ATVs and mules were going back and forth. Some were apparently delivering things to the aid stations. Some were, I guess, looking for runners who could not finish. Some seemed to have no other purpose than to cheer to us, but they were using the road that was supposed to be ours. So I got feisty and decided I wasn’t going to yield my empty lane to any of these vehicles. They could pull over and let me pass, or they could grind through the gravel shoulder to pass me. But I paid to use that road that day, and I was going to use it. I suppose you can guess what happened next. I heard a vehicle coming behind me, in my personal lane of blacktop, and I just stayed in the way, plodding along and letting it deal with this.

Fortunately, I happened to look back (thinking I might make a rude gesture) and learned that I was impeding the progress of an ambulance with its lights on. Um. Oops.

I was better behaved after that. Fortunately, we runners were well thinned by then, and I could find my flat part of the pavement in the other lane.

Somewhere around mile 11.5 I looked to the south and could see the steeple of the church that was our finish. Only a mile and a half to go, and yet it looked so very far away. There were no uphills left, and since we were returning on part of the same route that was at the start, we had mostly just gentle downhill before us. But so very far away. There was more walking in this last mile and a half. I didn’t care any longer. I hated the world by then. Sometime back I had caught up with the next faster pace group and even got ahead of them, but they passed me and left me behind within sight of the finish. Sigh.

I came toward the finish and made the turn into the school parking lot. What little energy I had left I poured into my legs. I think I made a decent enuf finish of my run, and I was still coherent enuf to hear the announcer mispronounce my name as I came hurtling across.

And that was that. I turned off my watch, waived away the proffered bottle of water, and only remembered that I needed to have the chip removed from my shoe when I saw a line of people having this done. I had to find the table where I was (unceremoniously) handed my medal (see below). The thing hanging from the cow’s neck is a copper bell with the number 6 on it, this being the sixth year of this run. (I understand the church makes something close to $100,000 from it. I’m not sure how since there weren’t that many runners times the race fee to reach that number. But I’m sure races are money-making rackets or they wouldn’t be held.)

cows bling

I staggered around for a while, hating the world and myself most of all. Somewhere ahead was another tent where I could collect my special medal for completing all of the races in the Heartland Series (see below). It was handed to me unceremoniously as well.

heartland bling

Then I made my way to the school cafeteria where the after party feed is legendary. The whole community apparently has a hand in it, and the church ladies are busy baking and cooking and fixing food a week in advance. I heard again and again about this spread, and I was eager to see it (even though I am not generally hungry after a hard run).

Every runner had a support crew, and since I imagine this event is the biggest thing to happen in Bucyrus, Kansas all year, every little kid in the community is there for the excitement and glamor of sweaty runners shouldering each other for free food. Thus the cafeteria was packed with people, most of whom I suspect weren’t actual runners. I stood in a long line just to stagger up to the table to see what was being served. Unfortunately, it was mostly nothing that I wanted to put on my stomach at that time. Burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ, potato chips, nachos, burritos, fajitas. There was a table dedicated to baked goods, but they were all so thickly sugar coated that I knew that wasn’t going to work for me either. About the only thing they had that I wanted was CHOCOLATE MILK, and I drank five or six cartons of it before I pulled myself from the throng and decided just to go home to a hot shower.

Remember that the Prolechariot was miles away, and I had to fold my weary, adult-sized legs into the seating of a school bus then drive most of a section of land to get off relatively close to my truck. But I managed. Libby drove us home, and I was about as cranky as I could be the entire way. It was not a good run for me, and that weighed on me.

But the rain never fell. There was a constant mild breeze throughout the run, and that relieved us of the oppressive humidity. The water stations were very well staged and well run, and I think every high school kid in the county had turned out to help and offer hydration, encouragement, and smiles. The course was challenging, and maybe if I had trained more intelligently and diligently, I would have welcomed the challenge rather than merely endured it. My knees did not give the slightest hint of complaint, and when my hips began to bark, I swallowed the Advil I had brought along. I didn’t see a single cow until the last half mile, but I guess they fulfilled that part of the deal, so no complaints there. I beat the chatty pacer in. I now have my eighth half marathon behind me as well as some lessons learned. And at least it wasn’t a really bad event like the Garmin half. (Ugh!)

There are only three things I would have done differently on the course had I been race director. I would not have allowed all of the back and forth of the support vehicles. And I would have not had us cross the path with faster/slower runners at mile 5. This was where we began the out-and-back stretch with the turnaround. The monitors on the corner needed merely to direct us to the left side of the road (after our left turn), and we would have come back on the right side of the road. As it was, this was switched, and though it didn’t affect me as far back as I was, many of the runners ahead of me had to find their way through a line of runners crossing directly in front of them. Finally, I would have asked the police and sheriff staff and other security people to turn off their engines as they stood at intersections. I realize it may be protocol to leave their engines running in case of sudden need, but there were several intersections I ran through where I sucked in nothing but exhaust. Did ALL of their vehicles need to be running? Did they ALL need to be parked immediately beside the course?

So I completed the Heartland Series and got the bling (plus the special shirt that shows I’m badass). But I don’t think I’ll sign up for it again next year. When two-thirds of the events are disappointing, that doesn’t encourage me to come back. Maybe I’ll Run with the Cows again someday to prove to myself that I can deal with long hills over long distances. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I have nothing on my dance card until the Plaza 10K in September. Yes, it’s likely that I’ll do some races between now and then, but I think my regular training runs will probably keep me happy for a while.

overflow, overseen

May 11th, 2015

overflow

Here is a different view of the overflow drain in the dam. You see it from atop the dam, looking down toward the water (obviously). My recent repair work to the retaining wall is evident. So far, it has not sunk into the dam or been excavated by a critter. (If I ever find myself with an excess of actual soil at Roundrock, I’ll put it over the gravel and perhaps get grass growing there.) The cottage blocks are still in place. The scrub hasn’t (yet) grown over the mesh. The system seems to be working.

Notable in this photo is, of course, the level of the lake. It’s about a foot and a half below full pool here. (And since then, with all of the rain that has fallen in the area, I’m sure it’s risen higher and probably even poured into the drain, perhaps even over the spillways. If so, there may be some surprises waiting for me on my next visit.) Danger Island was surrounded by water, and Libby’s Island farther up the lake had showed evidence that it had been surrounded, mostly pools of water in the dry gravel that surrounds it. (If I ever find myself with an excess of bulldozer at Roundrock, I’ll have the channels around the two islands dug out to be made deeper.)

Notice in the water the many sticks rising from it. These are remnants of the scrub that grew in the exposed parts of the lake bed through the summer and fall of 2014. I’m eager to see how long these sticks stick around. Will they rot and fall? Will the wind and wave action break them free?

Also seen in the water is the algae. I’m told that I have such a robust bloom of algae because the farmer to the north fertilizes her field and some of this gets into my watershed. The stretch of my road that crosses this area grows a nice stand of grass each year, so that is probably correct. I guess I don’t have any kinds of fish that eat algae, or if I do, I don’t have enuf of them, or I do but the algae grows faster than they can eat it. I don’t mind the algae so much (though I wouldn’t want to swim through it); it is part of the natural order of things, though I think it is probably a bit out of control. I’ve thought about walking along the shoreline (or even in the water) with a garden rake and trying to “harvest” the algae. I could rake it ashore and either leave it there to dry out, or I might collect it and see what kind of compost it makes. (I’m trying to get a compost pile going up near the cabin, but so far it’s only received the infrequent banana and orange peel. I should bring a bucket of the black compost I have in suburbia out and get it going with that.) The algae appears to be host to snails by the thousands. I also don’t mind snails so much since they do feed some of the fish. But snails are well known as vectors for various parasites. So by harvesting the algae, perhaps I can reduce the snail population as well.

Thus the tension between chores and chairs. It never ends.

Skywatch Friday ~ blue and white

May 8th, 2015

blue and white

For a brief period when we were last out to Roundrock, the clouds parted a little and let us see the lovely blue sky beyond.

I’m pretty sure the sky is not revealing any blue today. Thunderstorms are filling the skies throughout the area today.

And, tomorrow, when the forecast is for more thunderstorms, I’m running another half marathon. I don’t mind running in the rain, and it should be warm enuf that I won’t get hypothermia, and my shoes now have enuf miles on them that I won’t mind if they get soaked through.

But feel sorry for me anyway, okay?

meanwhile, back in suburbia

May 7th, 2015

We’ve lived in our current house for 28 years. And for 27 and a half years, we’ve had a picket fence enclosing our back yard. We hired a local company to build it. Originally it was intended to contain our little children and their toys. Then came dogs (and even a bunny). We stained it dark green so that it would blend into the grassy color of the open yards behind and around ours. This was, apparently, unheard of. Even scandalous. No one stained a wooden fence in these parts! Cedar fences are apparently supposed to bleach into a uniform gray (uniformity being a hallmark of suburbia, of course). Even the man who built our fence couldn’t believe it when we had him out years later to talk about repairs. (He did not get the job!)

To me, a gray wooden fence just looks uncared for, like an unmown lawn or peeling paint. I suppose it was the way I was raised. I can remember spending good parts of my St. Louis boyhood summers, when I wasn’t in Kentucky at my grandparents’ farm, staining the privacy fence of our backyard. I can remember going to my sister’s house for a party and her husband being unable to join us because he had to finish staining his fence. Tom Sawyer is famous for his fence staining acumen. And as I’ve driven around suburbia, I have spotted the occasional stained fence. I’m not alone.

In the nearly three decades of the fence’s life, I’ve replaced at least half of the pickets, many of the posts, and most of the rails. It is my own Ship of Theseus. The wood rots. Insects invade. Plants grow in and through. Mishaps with bats and balls. (One neighbor boy used our fence as his backstop for pitching practice, and he openly stated that his goal one summer was to knock off the top of each picket. Fortunately, he was a poor pitcher.)

But in all of that time, I’ve never encountered the danger to the fence’s integrity that has suddenly arrived this year.

As you probably know, we have two dogs: Flike and Queequeg. No one has told them they are dogs, so they don’t consider themselves to be such. And so they will bark at other dogs with disdain. Our neighbor (beyond on green picket fence) now has two dogs. (One her son left with her after he moved out, though he’s moved back in again. The other she got because she didn’t want the first dog to be lonely.) They do know they are dogs, and they recognize Flike and Queequeg as dogs despite their airs. These two neighbor dogs would love nothing more dearly than to play with our dogs.

In our yard.

And so they have. One of the dogs, Archie, has learned that he can grab the 27-and-a-half-year-old pickets in his jaws and wrench them free. All he needs to do is get one of them out and he and the other dog can slip into our yard and romp through the flower beds. Great fun.

Flike and Queequeg go nuts at this intrusion, and we are out there ushering the dogs back into their yard and slamming a few more nails into the pickets. A couple of years ago we had bought a hundred spare pickets to use as the occasional need arose. Now with Archie at work, the few I had left are rapidly being put to use.

My neighbor apologizes for this, but it is happening now almost daily. Eventually, (after I buy more pickets I guess) I’ll have that entire side of the fence replaced. Sturdy enuf to withstand Archie for a few years, I hope.

I don’t have a photo for this post, so here’s a recent one of my grandson, Ken:

17174619239_38d38f2ec3_n

east and west of the cabin

May 6th, 2015

east

Sorry for the blurry photo. I don’t think I’ll ever master the macro function on my camera. But no matter. This is the red buckeye on the east corner of the cabin. For the third year now it has brought out flowers, which warms my black and shriveled heart. So far, no buckeyes themselves, but I am hopeful.

The plants (there are three of them within the fence) are now taller than their cage. I suspect that the deer will not bother them, but as an absentee landlord, there’s not much I can do if they do.

Libby said that last year she saw a hummingbird on the outside of the fence, trying to figure out how to get to the red flowers inside the fence. That’s not going to be a problem any longer since the flowers overtop the fence.

Even more thrilling was what you see in this blurry photo:

west

These are flowers on the buckeyes on the west corner of the cabin. This is the first year for them to bloom; they’ve been in the ground for two years. Libby thinks that these western plants don’t get enuf sunlight. There is a largish Black Jack oak I want to remove that will help resolve the sunlight issue. and I could do some trimming elsewhere to let more sunlight get to these. All it takes is time and effort.

wiggling and squirming

May 5th, 2015

tent caterpillars

A not-uncommon sight at Roundrock this time of year. This tent was in a young cherry tree not too far from the Cabin at the End of the Road. I promptly broke the branch from the tree and took it for a walk. (Did you know that these caterpillars must weave their tent in a spot that gets full morning sun? They need it to warm their bodies in the spring so they can begin to forage. The temperature must also be high enuf to allow their bodies to digest the leaves that they eat.)

I walked down to the lake so that I could introduce the caterpillars to the fish in there. I’d done this once before with inconclusive results, but here was another fine opportunity, so I took it.

I had hoped that I could tear open the webbing and just shake the caterpillars into the water, but they cling tenaciously, and that tent has may layers and chambers within it. I used a stick to tear through parts and expose some critters, then I knocked them into the water. And I did that several times until I had all of the caterpillars liberated and going for a swim.

My results were inconclusive once again. There are times when I am certain the universe is conspiring against me. This was not one of those times however. I had simply executed a doomed plan.

Because I did not walk into the water (it being a chilly day), I had to deposit the caterpillars in the shallow water. And because it was a chilly, not-very-sunny day, the fish were in the deeper water rather than in the shallows. Also, there is still plenty of scum floating on the surface of the lake. And there was some lingering grass and other scrub sticking up out of these shallow waters (since the lake had been low all winter). The caterpillars thus found many refuges on the water once the wind blew them a foot or so from their entry point.

I didn’t get to confirm that they made a tasty meal or not. (In fact, it’s possible that the fish would not like the taste of them.)

But the effort was not a complete loss. As I looked in the water, I saw then what you see now:

polliwogsTadpoles. This confirmed that the fish were deep; I think they would have devoured these tadpoles if they had been up in the shallows with them.

 

once again

May 4th, 2015

phoebe 1

This is what greeted us on the cabin porch when we were last down at Roundrock.

Actually, there were three messes like this on the porch. We often will find little mysteries on the porch when we arrive. Who’s eating the door frame? Who put all of those rocks there? How did these sticks get here?

These mud pellets, on the other hand, are no mystery. They are all just part of this beautiful creation:

phoebe 2

 

Once again, a phoebe has used the protective overhang of the cabin porch to build her nest. Perhaps it is the same phoebe who built a nest here last summer. Maybe it’s one of her offspring. She doesn’t stick around to chat when we arrive but flies to a nearby branch and spends her time scolding us.

That is the ceiling of the porch you see in the top left of the photo; phoebe built her nest much higher this year. Whether that was to keep the nosy humans out of her business a little better or just because she found better purchase there for her mud pellets, I don’t know. Possibly both. Possibly for other reasons as well.

Because the natural light so close to the ceiling isn’t very good, I had to use the flash on my camera to get a decent shot. Unfortunately, that washed out some of the color. Along with all of the pellets of mud (thousands of them, I guess, in this effort and the two that didn’t take nearby), phoebe has decorated the outside of her nest with bits of green moss. It’s actually about as pretty as something made of mud can be. (And where is she finding all of this mud in my Ozark gravel soil?)

I worried last year that our coming and going would keep the bird off of her nest enuf to allow the eggs to die. That was apparently not the case since I kept an inventory of the eggs in it through the summer, and it was evident that she’d hatched her first clutch successfully since the eggs I had seen earlier were gone later. Then a second clutch appeared.

Sadly for me, but good for mama phoebe, my comings and goings at the cabin are not as frequent this year, so she’ll have more undisturbed time for sitting on her nest.

And what was within?

phoebe 3

Pablo had to stand on one of the comfy chairs and then take a blind shot into the nest still over his head to get this photo. Such a heartwarming image, at least to me.

 

Skywatch Friday ~ rainy portents

May 1st, 2015

cloudy sky

This was the sky that greeted us just after sunrise last week as we headed to Roundrock. There was a chance of rain in the forecast, but I crossed my fingers and we headed out nonetheless.

It never rained on us, and the clouds parted a number of times to show us blue sky. In any case, we were at our little cabin in the woods for the day, and that was a good thing.

 

fallen timber

April 29th, 2015

fallen

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we’d found a tree near the cabin that the storms had brought down. Well, as you can see in this photo, the storms hadn’t quite finished the job. The snapped tree was resting on its trunk when we arrived. It fell to me (so to speak) to finish the job, and I couldn’t quite manage it either.

What you can’t see in this photo is that the top of the (former) tree is resting in a crotch of a nearby tree. When I lifted the tree off of its trunk and began to pull it down, the branches of the two trees contrived and conspired to thwart me and held onto each other.

My concern was that if the tree came to the ground on its own, it might do so by falling on the cabin first. Although it looks as though this tree is leaning over the cabin, it is not. The tree is about fifteen feet away, but given its length and its posture high in that other tree, I think another storm could, possibly, throw the tree cabin-wise and maybe do some damage.

My moving of the snapped terminus to the ground, combined with the grip the two trees have on each other, makes me think that the cabin is now safe. Next time I’m out I’ll figure out how to liberate the fallen tree and then begin cutting it into fire wood.

I hadn’t known that this tree was weak (or perhaps even dead). It had brought out leaves last year. I’ve slowly been cutting away trees that are close to the cabin, but I’ve pretty much finished with the ones I’m comfortable attacking. Most of the rest are too big for my meagre skills and confidence. I just hope I’m not leaving it to the storms to finish those jobs.