Saturday, April 7, 2012
Ouch. Wow. Pain. We are all sore and exhausted tonight but that doesn’t mean we had a bad day. We had a great day with lots of big achievements. Of course, to have a day like that means to come home very dirty and – in this case – smelly, but we will get to that later.
We went to Joe’s this morning after a French toast breakfast. We got right to work clearing the same stream from yesterday, which was noticeably larger in the places we had cleared but also still stopped up in places we hadn’t yet reached. We went to those un-cleared areas and decided to start farther down and work our way back to the debris “wall” where we stopped on Thursday.
We fired up all four of our borrowed chainsaws and started heaving whole fallen trees into burn piles. We watched dammed up places in the stream open up and start to flow. The only thing that convinced us to stop even for a few moments was the arrival of a photographer from the local paper, the Madison Courier, who did a quick interview and then got out of the way as our systems started back up.
We broke for lunch with Vicky and Joe, sharing one of the great dishes left for us by Karen: pulled pork from a local butcher who specializes in helping hunters process their deer, turkeys, etc. Vicky added in some hotdogs, potato salad and more and we had quite a feast. As we finished lunch a few of us had to jump into the showers to get ready to leave for the airport. Matt, Emily, Claire and Justin all headed off to the Louisville airport to head home for Easter and the rest of us pulled our soggy boots back on and got back to work.
This time, though, we relocated to a completely different streambed on another side of the property. It eventually flows down and connects with the one we’ve been clearing and is one of Joe’s favorite hunting spots during deer season. This stream was flowing better than the other one already, but there were still some big crazy blockages that took everything we had to clear. As we were now a smaller group, we had to put in just a little bit more effort individually to match the progress that we were making when we had everyone.
Another difference in this streambed was that we elected not to create burn piles but to throw the wood into piles that would settle so that they can become animal habitats instead of clearings. (The forestry expert that visited a few days ago made this recommendation for this section of the property.)
A couple of people made the commitment right from the start to tromp down through the middle of the stream and manage the cutting. Others started out on the edges, pulling severed branches and loosely arranging them away from the stream. Before much time passed, though, everyone was in the creek, slogging along and making it wider than it has probably been for years.
And then we got laughing. Still working, but laughing. In some places on this stream, the water was backed up and starting to stagnate in slimy little pools. Gabe casually tossed off the evaluation that the water was “kind of gnar-gnar” (a shortened from of “gnarly,” meaning “nasty.”) That flip little reference served as a source of entertainment for the rest of the day as we messed with that word, taking it from an adjective to a noun to a base syllable in tons of already-existing words.
In some places we ran into large patches of mossy algae that was REALLY gnar-gnar and really smelly. We used a shovel, a rake, a pitchfork, our boots, a stick, and several other creative tools to break up the fields of gnar-gnar to send them downstream. We would loosen big patches of the green slime, scoop it up in a variety of ways, and fling it onto the banks of the stream. Sometimes it would cling in the bushes or tree limbs, danglin’, drippin’, and stankin’. It was disgusting but satisfying to walk into these slippery and smelly fields and then walk away from them with clear water flowing.
The gnar-gnar puns continued relentlessly and as daylight started to wane, we did a search for all of the random tools that we had left behind as we moved down the creek bed. We were shocked to see how much territory we had covered this afternoon. We went up to the house and pooled our food with Vicky and Joe again. We brought hamburgers and beans and buns and they pitched in chicken, hash brown casserole, green bean casserole, salad, German chocolate cake, and the hit of the night: venison steaks.
We ate more than we ever should eat and admired each other’s farmer tans. Some of us had wader tans, achieved by getting sun above your big rubber boots but below your shorts or capri pants. We made plans to return to Joe and Vicky’s house on Easter to do a few hours of work after church and before leaving for Indianapolis, where we will stay until the first bunch leaves for the airport tomorrow and the second bunch leaves on Tuesday morning.
We thought about going out and checking out the Madtown nightlife but chose to stay home instead. Amelia wanted to stay up late, because she had given up chocolate for Lent, meaning that at midnight she could gorge on the chocolate stash she has been sitting on this whole week. (Chris is convinced that Amelia only came to Indiana so that midnight would come three hours earlier to allow her to break her chocolate fast.).
We will head to church with Shelly for Easter Sunday and then back for our last few hours of work at Vicky and Joe’s. We hope your Easter is lovely wherever you are!