Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ice Age Sunday

I admit, today is balmy, really balmy as compared with yesterday. The morning reading showed temperatures in the teens and those sage predictors were jubilating that we would get close to freezing (32) by mid-afternoon.

I step outside.

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No excuses. Zip up and head out. We are off to the Ice Age Trail to work on chopping and burning invasive trees and shrubs.

I have some trepidation. The wind is gusting, making it that much colder. At the same time, I’ve given up wearing my warmest jacket for these outdoor projects. Branches shred and rip anything in sight. I can’t afford to subject a good jacket to this kind of brutality.

We drive to the hills just north of Madison. It really is gorgeous today.


These short rides are perhaps the only time I like being in a car. There is rarely traffic on week-end mornings. Public Radio usually has a good talk or game show on. The sun is streaming and until the moment when we start losing reception, I feel almost at peace with the car, even Ed’s rusty wreck of a car. Still, I ask him – wouldn’t it be lovely to have a newer vehicle with great radio stations?
You don’t need a newer car for that. You need paid satellite radio.
Paid? No, not us. We still adjust the antenna on the TV to pick up a wide spectrum of free channels.

We’re late for the 9 a.m. meet-up and so we again must find the place on the trail where the volunteers are working today. I should note – very few volunteers. Only the diehards. I suppose we’re becoming diehards. Especially during a winter that offers no snow for cross-country skiing.


The forest is still made pretty with patches of snow. Eventually we come to the unmistakable scent of burning wood.


We get to work.

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This time we’re assigned hauling duties. The Trail Regulars are sawing timber and there’s plenty that needs to be thrown onto the heaps that eventually turn into blazing fires.

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Managing a fire is tricky: you need to get close to move the branches and again my face gets that red leathery stiffness that comes from too much heat. Within an hour, my jacket is off and even so, I’m plenty warm.


We work, as always, until the Trail guys break for lunch. This is our cue to hike back to the car.


I’m feeling the joy that comes after a morning of outdoor work.
Ed, I’m just so happy to be here...
No you’re not...
Turn off the negative! You could say something to the effect of being glad to be here, alive!
We’ll be dead soon.
Me before you.
Not likely. Though how you’ll manage then is beyond me.
Hey, don’t slip on the ice here! You twist your ankle so easily.
Don’t you slip. You know you’re clumsy.

It’s what I'd call a perfect Ed and Nina moment.

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