For the last couple weeks I’ve been getting ready for the Hot Times.
Good thing because today the thermometer is heading north towards 90, in the shade, already.
Last summer almost killed me with heat and smoke from forest fires near and far, so supplies have been accumulated for this coming summer, such as the poles and heavy stands and sun shades.
And, at the onset of the Hot Times, I also begin to prepare for the coming Cold Times.
That means gathering firewood, and since the firewood is close to the bottom of the hill and the cabin is at the top of the hill, my daily cardio is baked into the scheme of things up here.
Yup, can’t wait for it to hit triple digits.
I was sitting in the shade of the little copse of oaks behind the cabin, watching a little black phoebe down the hill.
It would perch on a little bush, then flit around in a little pattern, catch an insect and flit back to the perch for a minute, then dart out and catch another insect and return, and so on, for several minutes.
A few days ago, while I was wandering around taking stock of work that needed to be done on the land, this adorable little thing suddenly sprang from under a tree and froze a few feet away from me.
If you said “That’s a typical long-eared chipmunk” you’d be right.
There are also a couple of does who forage around the bottom of the hill every evening and no end of bunny and jack rabbit sightings in the last week or two.
Nature is rocking it.
Eric arrived towards sundown a couple days ago, bringing a couple of filets and a really good bottle of booze.
A deft hand at the barbecue, a quick, erudite wit across a whiskey bottle, an interest in the local plants and beasts, and a good set of knees for ambling about the land make him an excellent guest.
Yesterday the weather was very fine so we broke out the frisbees and spent a couple hours enjoying the 6 hole course we set up here a few years ago.
Along the way we encountered a skink.
And then, like the perfect guest he is, Eric cooked an awesome breakfast before he drove back home.
Just another fucked up day in heaven here on the hill. Eh?
And then the sun dawned upon a sky free of clouds and burned away the morning fog.
The trees and grasses and flowers are in a frenzy of growth. And though during the rest of the year vegetation may seem to be still, during this time it is common to come across a tendril or shoot or branch stretching out or reaching up an extra foot or two in a matter of days.
Pretty invigorating stuff, this life. Hey? Hey?
I woke up this morning to the rain drumming on the roof.
Though it was a series of showers and so barely registered it didn’t form puddles, it washed the dust down and made the plants and birds very pleased and gave Spring an extra little kick into the coming Hot Times.
PK and Robert, friends for 40ish years, came up for a visit.
Many of my contemporaries are getting on in years and their knees are in that crumbling pre-knee-replacement stage, so are not able to get around the hill here much less hike in Yosemite.
PK and Robert are still spry so we took advantage of the lull before Memorial Day Weekend to head off into the park. The first day we visited the valley, found parking(!) and had a civilized lunch at the Ahwahnee.
The next day, ignoring weather reports of thunder storms, we took advantage of the opening day of Tioga Road and drove up to Tuolumne Meadows.
While relaxing under the eves of Parson’s Lodge above the Tuolumne River, we saw the storm barreling in. As we drove back, it caught up with us and flurries of rain chased us out of the park.
But that was okay, because we enjoyed the storm from the other side while working through the leftover steaks and wine.
Spring sprang and sprung.
It started to get cold yesterday afternoon and then it started to snow at the end of the day and then the snow finally started to pile up and stick.
I regretted the fact that I’d burnt the last of the season’s firewood a week ago.
But I was happy I’d swilled out the swale into which the road drains at the top of the hill.
The swale, basically a ditch, collects the water and allows it to soak down into the ground instead of flowing downhill and carving gullies and carrying soil away.
Drainage is sort of a big deal when it rains and one is atop a steep hill.
And then dawn broke out this morning, and everything was lovely and good, and the day perfect.