Saturday, September 26, 2009

swinging high, straight down

Don't you now how to carry a pick mattock? Sharp side down!
(Later) can you run over and get a McLeod? And a sledge? And a bucket with a couple of gallons of water for the cement?

My day.

Maybe you're not tool-savvy? Maybe you don’t fight forest fires or break up roots of invasives?

Earlier, my morning began at the Westside Community Market. Truly, I feel a gut-wrenching sadness at seeing the stalls now. It'll all be over so quickly. And how can that be, given the load of strikingly beautiful food on display on this end of September market?




After filling my basket, I hesitate. Should I work? I have no corner shop hours today, but I have lots of law work on my plate.

Or maybe not work? Or maybe work in an entirely different fashion, alongside a group of volunteers building the Ice Age Trail? I’d done that once before, clearing brush, but today’s agenda for the Ice Agers is way more ambitious.

We're southwest of Madison. The rain that was to hit us today stayed away. I mutter -- You don’t carry the pick on your shoulder? Like in Soviet Russia?

I notice that I am the only one in regular old running shoes.

Are you able to swing a pick ax over your head? You can’t swing sideways, because if you miss, you’ll take off both your legs. Right above the ankle. Next time wear sturdier boots.

I don’t have trail building boots. And I’m not sure I can now, at 56, effectively swing an ax. But I hardly ever say “no I can’t” and so I do.


And I dig holes.


And cement poles. And break up roots. And when the going gets too tough, Ed takes the pick mattock and whacks away. So that his t-shirt clings in wet strips to his back.

The people working here today – they’re a pack that has labored on this project together before. The Ice Age Trail is a work in progress and someday the IAT will be as much part of your vocabulary as the AT (Appalachian Trail) now is.

Easements through farmland join parcels of state land to form one beautiful path through Wisconsin.



Built for your pleasure. To encourage you to hike the land. Through forests, past cornfields, up hills, across streams (they're building the bridges for you!). The undulating land that is so familiar to us, here in the upper Midwest.


Ed asks Tim, the man in charge (catch him tomorrow – briefly - on PBS, as part of the great Ken Burns epic on the National Parks) – so is it tough for you these days? To keep the project going? Given hard times?

Tim is a cup-full guy. We have the biggest volunteer base, and the hugely important recent cooperation of the National Park Service – he says this with a wide, happy grin (as opposed to the frown earlier, as he assessed our work on the small trail fragment that veers off the Badger State bike Trail (you couldn’t finish the wiring today? The man’s standards are exacting.)

You eating dinner with us? At the campfire?

We almost camped with them. Almost. But, there were veggies from the market at home and, well, an Ocean post to write.

We’ll see you on the next segment. (Before winter. Join us. Find out when and where here.)