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Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Today looks and feels as summery as summer can be.  Yet I ache.  Bobolink is gone!  If you don’t know bobolink---that beautiful, bubbly bird of the deep grass----then watch this celebratory video.  According to the books, they’re already finding their way south, far south, to the deep grass of Brazil and Argentina.  Ridiculous to come so far for a 3 month visit, just long enough to fledge their little ones.  And sad.  I so remember looking forward to their arrival, their song, like the laughter of drunken bells.  I do understand they have a long journey ahead including a Caribbean crossing amidst the hurricane season.  Not to mention a new life without a north star.  They have much to prepare for.

Two weeks ago I hauled 4 full trailers of wood---cut but not split---from my neighbor.  Keith and I worked out a good price for both of us.  He’s been cutting up fallen trees ever since building their home in the woods 2 years ago.   While I could certainly harvest my own wood, it seemed more the neighborly thing to do to take some of his off his hands.  He’s got more than he knows what to do with.  And it fits our values.  We believe less in self-reliance and more in community reliance.   Yet for me the real driver is a dull ache I feel.    Yes, the masonry heater is extremely efficient.  Still something inside says “better have enough wood”. 

And if it weren’t bad enough that bobolink left me, he took Rose Breasted Grosbeak with him.    Can there be a more beautiful bird at the feeder?  And speaking of bird feeders, when grosbeak left everyone else quit coming.  Even goldfinch.  Only hummingbird remains, guzzling sugar water as he too prepares for his next adventure. 

Linda put up a dozen jars of apricot preserves, two dozen of peach, and now, as I type, she’s sweating away over all the late arriving tomatoes.   To thrive year long on the food we and our neighbors grow, we are learning to preserve the abundance, preparing for the scarcity ahead.

Last Saturday I stared up the driveway, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my brother Steve and his family.  Suddenly a cool northerly overcame the sultry afternoon.  Without stopping to wonder why, I rushed inside the shed, grabbed my splitting maul and marched to the big wood pile.  Swish.  Thud.  Crack.   What a great feeling as I stacked the first splits into the wood bins.  Minutes later, when my brother’s van eased down the driveway, his boys jumped out and soon four of us joined in the testosterone-induced ritual.   And though summer has returned, I’ve kept it up.  Splitting.  Stacking.  I just can’t seem to help myself. 

Like bobolink and rose-breasted grosbeak, I feel an urge, a dull ache.  Beyond the warmth and the green, something awaits.   Whatever it is, I feel a need to prepare.  


  1. Thanks Mike for the poetic description of the birds leaving and you preparing for the next season. Love the pictures. You are both looking happy and healthy. Love, Karen

    1. Thanks Karen! Indeed we're blessed with health and happiness.

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