The fleeting thoughts don’t always stick around long enough for me to find the time to jot them all down. As of late, I have much about the blooming spring— and the chores that come with it— on my mind.
There are undertakings at the camp that demand my attention. While I am not the primary carpenter working on the minor porch rejuvenation job, I have been charged with adding a few electrical outlets before the interior walls are covered with rough-cut pine. Success will depend on what happens the next time that I turn on the circuit breaker.
I need to open up the neighbor’s cottage, haul and stack some lumber, install a couple of docks, meet the soil scientist to find out where the new septic field is going to be located, move a cord of dry wood (in hopes that it might be a better spot for the leach field than for wood storage), and reset the front steps. Mr. Frost came in and did what he does best. That is, to make formerly level things crooked again.
The one hundred miles between camp and home are constantly trampled upon during my comings and goings. It gets expensive to live so far away from my favorite piece of ground. You learn to economize on other things, but the time to complete the tasks is allotted to each one of us in the very same way; there is never enough. I’ll make the trip a total of three times this week, and I will not spend even one night sleeping out on the screened-in porch; the paying job back home takes precedent.
The good news is that I am catching up on some really great music and consuming various blends of convenience store coffee. I find myself quietly reviewing each offering while taking my first sip. “Mmm, it tastes like coffee,” is clearly what this aficionado is hoping to mutter as he grabs the column shifter and drops the tranny into D, for delicious, and then steers toward the E on the mirror’s electronic compass. The W is used as a guide on the return trip. If not for the coffee, on some days, I might be reciting lefty loosey, righty tighty. That will do me no good when trying to get back home in the dark.
I smile to myself wondering what it would be like to drink a coffee that required me to utilize more than one descriptor—or even one extra ingredient—during the process of ordering. I’ve stood in a Starbucks’ line while the more refined in front of me rattle off the list of necessities that must be included in their bean juice. By the time I hear someone add the term “half-caff,” I lose interest in the recipe. To be able to step up to the counter and say, “black,” gives me a feeling that I might be giving the barista a break from the rote memorization exercises that terrorize them daily.
So far—this week—I have tried Honduran, Guatemalan, and Rwandan blends. All of them have been dispensed from those fancy instant brewing machines that grind out the beans after you used the digital screen to pick your poison. I really like the coffee that comes out of those things. I feel invested in the process. During brief discussion with the more outgoing clerks in various locations I have been informed that cleaning these fancy coffee makers is less time consuming than the old type.
I embrace each poorly-planned trip because destinations can sometimes be a letdown, especially when you cannot spend even one evening out of the three sitting by an open fire while being serenaded by peepers and the groaning of the lovelorn bullfrogs. That time will come, just not this week.
Ellie is confused with the repeated trips with very little downtime between the back and the forth. She would love to spend the night rather than winding down the hours snoozing in the backseat during the bumpy rides. She makes it clear with her eyes that she will take the truck seat over the love seat every single time. She does take her mandatory swim upon our arrival. I avoid doing the same this time of year.
If I were a builder, I would have never been considered a good finish man. I’d be thought of as the rough carpenter, at best. Maybe I would be the guy they send out to get lunches and pick up materials at the lumber yard. I’d forget things, but I’d show up on time, and I would stay late if they needed me to do so. I’d rather be considered loyal and trustworthy than as the guy who does the work of a perfectionist. I would also guarantee that everyone got the fries they ordered, even if they were perched at the top of the bag. You need to be trustworthy with French Fries, that’s for sure.
It would be great to be skilled in the building trades; I would have saved piles of money over the past fifty years.
My writing skills are only about one step away from my carpentry skills. Some might say that is an egotistical overstatement. I can rough in a sentence, but I have to come back more than once to grammatically improve the delivery and appearance.
I typically write my blog posts on Sundays, and then I look them over on Monday, and then, once again, on Tuesday night. I’m often found to be adding and subtracting words right up until it’s time for the Newslog to be sent out to the 13,500 subscribers late on Wednesday afternoons. I still miss things.
I’m not complaining about my chores, my gas bill, my lack of quality writing skills, good planning, or being void of competency in carpentry . I am just explaining why this week’s post really doesn’t have a predetermined destination or topic. It’s just another musing from the mind of a mope. Sometimes, it’s the drive that gives me pleasure.
While I was writing this, Ellie came forth to express her need for sweet relief. While she was indisposed during the disposal of whatever was no longer necessary, I perused the arthritic branches of my old apple tree. It’s a resilient soul.
I’ve been watching last year’s sturdy and stubborn crab apples decaying away throughout the winter. I have wondered when the birds might pick the old fruit clean from the branches. On this day, I was taken by the vivid pink flowering buds that surround the remaining freeze-dried fruits from the COVID winter of 2020.
While it’s difficult to pick out the carcass of the tiny apple, the little rascal is hanging in there—sad, wrinkled, and brown—just about in the center of the frame.
While no one would consider it a beautiful example of an apple— and it pales in comparison to the excited, vibrant, and youthful buds that surround it—it’s still a valuable asset to someone. Maybe a tired and northbound traveling bird will find it to be a nourishing tidbit. It could also be destined to drop to the ground where it will feed our tiny segmented and multi-legged brethren who deserve some fiber too.
Some might label the fruit as an aging soul surrounded by young and beautiful individuals in much better condition. Another viewpoint to consider is that the apple could have made a conscious choice to linger longer to pass on some sage advice to those who are less experienced.
All of us have some value, no matter what stage of life we are in, even if we don’t have the skills equal to those of whom we seem to find it necessary to compare ourselves with.
Even a rotten apple can help us come to a poignant ending in an essay about nothing in particular.
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(Tim Cotton- Copyright May 2021)