A sunny Monday. Awoke to a convention of wood ducks, eight of them on the pond. It was hard to count as they were either frolicking or fighting, it was hard to discern what with the splashing and circular navigation. Our “annual” (we think) pairs, one of woodies and the other, mallards, arrived a couple of weeks ago and they resent interlopers. Now, three hours later, things are back to status quo.
Spring has sprung from the air, along with the ducks, the first goldfinches, sapsuckers and other twitter-and-flutter birds that had been gone for the winter. On the ground in Mazama, Alice Rimby reported glacier lilies last Friday, and on a Sunday hike, Ms. Gloria, with friends Becky and Margo, noted bluebells, yellow bells, and arrowleaf balsamroot that some call sunflowers. They were just in bud there, whereas across from the Smith’s sheep farm on Highway 20 there are some in bloom. Way, way early.
According to a couple of reports, there was a mass of bicycles up at Washington Pass this past weekend. The pass is scheduled to open in the coming week, and this was among the last days when bikers could pedal all the way to Early Winters without an automotive accompaniment, other than possibly a few Washington State Department of Transportation vehicles.
We used to get a laugh, my coastal friend Cathy and others, at her father’s need to cut wood. Nowadays Ole might well be referred to as having some sort of compulsive disorder. I am longer in years than he was in those days in the early 1970s when he would bring firewood, lots of alder, from his digs in Stanwood for my campfires.
It must be a contagion that has spanned the years because I am now afflicted with the chain saw syndrome, a lot by necessity after the ice storm downed so many trees. We have a lot of trees that are fairly uncommon in the Methow, maybe due to the high water table. Many birches, too many cottonwoods, and alder — when green, the finest splitting wood I know. This of course entails drying the stuff after splitting, all part of the wood butchering disease. The disease is in the butcher, not the trees.
Winter is my favorite season in some respects, primarily because the snow covers so many chores left undone. In summer it’s too hot, and in fall there are too many other things to do than pick up large and small debris when an outing with a camera is so much more satisfying.
Spring brings forth the realities of rural life: A panoply of litter that can range from dog bones to a forgotten tire or two. Then there are the tarps. I have lots of tarps that fulfill a potpourri of projects, from being a portable garage to being a temporary window in the barn. They work fine until the wind has had its way with them, then the snow buries them and in the spring they tauntingly reappear, no longer cracklingly intact but sad, soggy and edges torn with hundreds of blue or brown shards that look and act like DuPont pasta.
There is a way around this: One can depart the premises, or can face reality and start cleaning or, as is now happening, begin cutting and bucking more alder and birch for next year’s stove fodder.