I hear a strange bird call, seems like it’s coming from over here, then over there, then over there. After a minute or two of this, I start feeling a little spooked. What is that? I look up and see… yes. A flock of Sandhill cranes, making their autumn flight south. This is a gift, one I receive so infrequently that I forget what it sounds like until my eyes remind me. I watch until the check-mark of giant, long-winged birds disappear into the sun, the leader’s odd calls reaching my ears from impossibly high in the sky. I have to smile. I feel honored.
I spend three hours chipping six inches of baked mud with the tip of a shovel off the broken cement where I’m planning to stack this winter’s supply of firewood. My hope is to avoid tracking this sticky red mud into the house when it rains or the snow melts. I scoop the heavy, dry, caked earth into the yard cart with a straight-edged, flat shovel: scoop, lift, toss. Scoop, lift, toss. Over and over again. Then wheel the cart out to the back garden and dump it. This was preparatory labor; tomorrow morning I begin stacking the first of two cords of dry, seasoned almond-wood. For now, the wood forms two impossibly large hills on the driveway, dumped there by the wood-guy last evening. I love the scent. Instead of almonds, this wood smells like cinnamon. Each heavy hunk represents several hours worth of cozy stove-fire warmth once the weather turns cold and damp. This is good work. Satisfying work.
Watched, smiling, as two Anna’s hummingbirds chased each other around the garden, chirping. Sawed off a couple of apple tree suckers that had grown too large and were hanging in the way of my mud-chipping. Sweated like a horse, drank lots of water, and ended up exhausted and shaky and a little frustrated at myself for getting so tired.
Tonight I’m flattened. Totally wiped out. Dinner was a cheese and tomato sandwich, no energy to think, let alone cook. The bottoms of my feet ache monotonously, laying lie to what I wrote yesterday about not having this problem anymore. Go figure. My hands and wrists are desperately sore. Throbbing. Well, naturally. What else should I expect after abusing the joints in such a cavalier manner? So now I’m dosed up on tramadol and Tylenol, hoping to sleep the night through so I’ll feel good and ready to get back to work at sunrise.