Sunday, July 31, 2011

Leave of Absence

As Jer mentioned in his last note, things are a tad busy in these parts. This evening represents the first night of my last work trip for this job. I'm far south on the furthest reaches of the state in a big hotel that overlooks the ocean. This morning began with cow spit and donkey bites and is ending with deluxe room service (thank you, job-that-is-ending, for allowing me to push my per diem to the absolute limit) on a plush king-sized bed. Strange day. Strange juxtaposition, this.

Last week I was also on the road with the work crew and dragged myself into the hotel bar after a particularly harrowing day, pulled self onto a bar stool and ordered a bourbon on the rocks which the bartender exclaimed was "sexy." I asked if it was "sexy" enough to be free, but he just stopped smiling and walked away. A girl's gotta try. There I was and here I am now in these artificially fancy settings wishing badly for cooler weather and for my hands in the dirt. In about one month I expect the land to literally get turned inside out with the commencement of construction and all that entails. Although I'm trying hard to enjoy my posh surroundings and the last weeks of this lovely job, I happily accept this leave of absence from cubicles and heels and power points, for a few extra hours in the woods. In fact, I've found that my most recent job search terms have deteriorated into "donkey groomer," "goat milker," "outdoor," and "forest." Not the most lucrative scope, I'll admit. It might be time to put the job search to rest for a few days.

Speaking of leaves of absence, we've been away from the land for almost a full week. Due to Jeremy's work commitments we decided not to head east yesterday morning and instead spent the entire day doing normal things. We made a big breakfast, helped a friend move (And then had lunch with said friend. Lunch with friends on a Saturday!) and we even - gasp shock pause - went on a date. Like, out in the city of Austin. The entire drive home was nostalgic conversation, reminiscing about the Saturday's of years past spent leisurely around the house. It was a nice - no a great - day. But I'll swap it with a dusty Saturday in the pasture any time. Any. Time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Man Week + building "progress"

One word to describe this week - HOT. We bounced around the 100 degree mark pretty much every day this week. Some days were punctuated with some cloud cover that made the 100 degrees only feel like 95 or so. However the other sunny periods were sweltering. I stayed out there all week only running the A/C (and generator) in the evenings to cool off the RV. Needless to say, I've really enjoyed today back at the house in the air conditioning holding at a nice comfortable 79 degrees. So, uncomfortable heat aside, I had a pretty productive week with Bertha II. With the help of a friend from work and my Fasha (pronounced "Fasha"), I was able to put about 40 hours on Bertha II and clear a pretty significant area. Between the 3 of us, we took out, literally, about 200 stumps, in addition to some full size trees. After averaging about 2 gallons of drinking water a day, we now have the 1500 feet long path for the electric company cleared along with my 1800 foot long path for the water lines (I didn't get to actually digging the trench). Also during the week, the water meter was installed at the street. So now, water access is just waiting on me to lay the pipe. The metal building has been ordered. The builders are finishing another job and plan to break ground on the slab on September 1. There's a lot happening in the next month or two. The more I think about what all we need to do, the more overwhelmed I get, especially considering my company hosts our annual convention in two weeks that brings about 3500 visitors from around the globe. Needless to say, there is some stress in our household right now. I just keep telling myself, it will all be worth it in about 6 months. Hang in there, Jer. Hang in there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Watcher

In one short week the landscape has changed dramatically. The power of such a huge tractor was surprising in its impact. Suddenly we have a cleared path for a new pasture fence, a 1500 foot swath ready for electric poles, and the millions of stumps we created that look like multitudes of rude gestures, flipping the bird all over the place? Gone. No longer are we taunted by the ghosts of trees killed (necessarily) to make way for pasture. Big, bad, Bertha II flicked them aside like toothpicks.

Jeremy has fully committed himself to this week of destruction, clearing, smoothing earth and, well, lots of beer drinking, if we're being honest. I've spent a few hours most days helping momentarily and then wandering off into the new spaces he's created amongst the trees. The view has changed and only for the better. And I marvel at the fact that the same dusty acreage I've walked a thousand times has changed shape so quickly and become something new entirely.

Long after the sun set and the night sank into total darkness, we took a walk to the home site and stood at the "garden" gate that leads onto a path towards the "pond" (anything in " " denotes future plans for things that are, currently, huge piles of crap). Jeremy wore his blinding head lamp, slowly turning his head 180 degrees to fully survey the view. As he passed a distant corner of woods, two bright, sharp circles glowed back at us from a low branch. We stared towards the small orbs, so steady and wide that we started to wonder if what we saw was actually a set of eyes or something else. He turned away, plunging them back into darkness and slowly turned back. Again, the two orbs pierced us steadily and we started wondering what shiny object was tangled in the tree. That is, until one of the orbs slowly shrank, slowly became a half moon, then a fingernail shaped crescent, until...nothing but blackness next to one bright orb. "An owl!" we both murmured together, naming the only creature we know that blinks an eye individually.

I whirled around and felt an eery chill on this particularly balmy night. Suddenly, amidst this tangle of forest and vines I felt very tiny, not knowing how many such creatures stared at us this very moment, how many would encircle the house every night and peer inside. It's not a fear but fascination, as we enter the woods and learn how many beasts and spirits shrink into the landscape. It's easy when you rent a machine, put up fences, smooth the ground, and tame the land, to forget that you share this place with what was here before you. I'll try not to forget, and I don't think all these watchers from the woods will let me.