August projects

Spent the day on the Cat loader scooping out peat from the swamp in front of the house and moving it on shore where I am building an earthen ramp along-side the swamp. The ramp will be for observation of birds on the pond. I think it is already almost ten feet high at the apex.

Things go well early in the day before the soil wears out. As the day goes on, things get more muddy. Finally, about half-way through, I got good and stuck. Because I was behind an immovable stump, it took a little finagling to get out.

Fun, fun. I do love late summer civil engineering projects. It seems like I get involved with some crazy project every August.

Twenty years ago, I decided to build trails through the woods at the nursery. Those trails are still used. Dad mows them every year. During family reunions, cousins took the three wheeler on laps through the trail. One lap was about 1/2 mile.

About ten years ago, my August project was building a peat-brick wall at the nursery. That was before we had the gardens. I hauled peat bricks three-at-a-time from the peat swamp half-a-mile away.

It was an arduous task. I had to scrape away the peat that was loose to get down to the bready stuff. Then, I cut the bricks with a butcher knife. Then I pried them up with a pitchfork and loaded them on the back of the three wheeler for transport back to the nursery. The whole project took two weeks. The wall still stands, but you would never dream that it took two weeks to build.

About fifteen years ago, I plowed up an entire meadow. I had remembered the meadow being used as a strawberry patch when I was very young, so I thought it should be plowed up again. I cleared the brush and plowed the meadow and cultivated it for a time. The land was never used, and now it is grown up in trees.

Another time, I started cleaning out the woods in August. What a futile task! I hauled out all the junk, only to realize that there was nowhere to put it but...back in the woods.

I cleaned the grainery one August. It was full of nostalgic items. The job took days, as I often got pulled into reading an old college annual of my grandmother's or father's. But what privacy there was in the upstairs of the old grainery--nobody would ever imagine you were there rifling through things. The sun fought through the loose four-pane glass window. The bats squeaked. The mold and must stank. It was like crawling back to the pre-WW I era.

Uncle Rolly often came home in August. Now he works outdoors every day, but back then he was a professor and liked nothing more than to come home and take on a cleaning project. It usually involved clearing brush or sawing up trees.

I suppose the normal way to pass August in the countryside is to harvest. I was luckier--August has always been a hazy, lazy time before school, a time to listen to the Twins late into the night.