The past two weeks have been busy ones, up here at Fish in a Barrel Pond. It is nice to have little lull in which to dust off the old keyboard for this dispatch.
I once told someone that I was not a “nine to fiver”. That statement, combined with my refusal to cut my hair, was taken to mean that I was a hippie. That person’s assumption has softened a bit but I am still considered to be counter-culture and therefore dangerous. Even now, toward the end of my first half century of life, I get asked when I am going to cut my hair and get a real job.
I was on the phone with an old friend the other day and he said something to the effect of how nice it must be to spend the winter way back in here with not a care in the world and nothing to do. Then he told me how much he would like to have a job like mine, if only he didn’t already have a real job he liked so much.
I told him about how hard winter rains have been backing up behind a plugged culvert and flooding the road to one of the cottages here at Fish in a Barrel Pond and how when I get on the phone to call the guy who clears the culverts the line is busy because that’s what happens when you try to call yourself. Isn’t clearing culverts a real job?
When it is discovered that the culvert is plugged because a pair of beavers stuffed it full of mud and sticks, it is time to call the trapper. His number is the same as the guy who clears the culverts so it appears he has at least two jobs, whether or not anyone thinks they are real.
I took my friend, Eugene, with me to check my trap sets yesterday. As I worked my way onto the ice shelf behind the culvert he made himself comfortable, sitting on my pack at the edge of the trail while I chipped away with my axe. It was nice and quiet in the woods, except for my banging on the ice and Eugene’s constant questions. I was standing with one hand on a hip, leaning with the other on the axe handle, trying to catch my breath, when he asked a doozy. “Aren’t you bored?” he asked.
Before I could answer, the ice shelf beneath me gave way and I fell back into knee-deep, nearly freezing water.
It was a quiet walk home.
When the dooryard needs to be cleared of a portion of the 100+ inches of snow we’ve had so far this season, I am the one on the tractor digging us out.
When I wake up at 2:00 a.m. under the mistaken impression that someone has put some billiard balls and a bobcat in the clothes dryer, I am the one sitting on a bucket in a dark corner of the old cellar reattaching the pulley and belt to the furnace’s blower motor.
Leaky roofs, broken windows, flooded roads, rock-battered boats and motors, animal/human conflicts, human/human conflicts, poachers, trespassers and other miscreants, tractors, mowers, chainsaws, computers and anything else that happens here, I am on it. Time of day and day of week don’t matter. This is not a nine to five job.
I could probably go and get me one of those real jobs but what would I do all day?