Saturday, January 28, 2012


How are my eyebrows? -- I ask Ed. Completely gone?
No, just a little singed.
Casualties of the morning. Also undone – a pair of outdoor gloves. They were old, but still...

But let me say right away – and perhaps this will surprise you – it was an excellent morning.

My idea this winter to ski daily faltered rather quickly: the trails around Madison don’t have enough snow to make it fun. The temperature heaving has given them a brittle, icy coating. With twigs and pebbles poking through. I talked of doing a trip up north, but the older Ed gets, the less he likes spontaneous ling distance  journeys. And so this morning, as I see again a nice strip of bright light at the horizon just before sunrise, I say to Ed merely this – outdoors... we have to get outdoors today.

It’s windy and in the low twenties. Eh, so what. The Ice Age Trail folks (such apt description) are organizing a work day out on one of the segments of the trail just west of Madison.


At 9 a.m., we’re there with them at the trailhead, waiting for instructions.

Clear the hill, burn the brush.

It’s great work! Within minutes the cold ceases to be a problem.

DSC09932 - Version 2

And as the stacks of chopped and snipped wood grow, the fires flair and the air takes on a gusty smell of campfires.

DSC09917 - Version 2


Managing the fires when the wind is this strong is a challenge. My brows are the price to pay for it.


But it’s terrific work and for three hours, we chop, snip and haul until the leaders call for a lunch break. We leave then. We’re known for that – we come, we work, we leave. Unfriendly types who scorn bonding over dead flesh between slabs of bread. I wont deny it -- it's an apt characterization.

Ed drives the now fixed, but so very rusted Geo home. These hills west of Madison are especially pretty now, in January. Here, you can't tell that the snow cover is actually quite thin.


It is a beautiful landscape.


And now we’re at Paul’s cafĂ©. Ed’s sleeping, I’m thinking about how to trim eyebrows around the missing parts. The smell of wood is still with us. The chill of the wind is long gone.