I hate to say this, and I hope I’m not the first to break the news: Winter, be it mild or malicious, is headed to Ohio. It’s only a matter of time. There are many undeniable indicators in my little universe. The leaves have all but flown, the woolly bears are doing double-time across the country roads and the English sparrows mob my feeders like a rugby scrum and drain it to the bottom every time the temperature falls below 40 degrees.
The most undeniable and for me the most dreadful sign of winter is the darkness. The truncated days combined with the recent time change have delivered me to "dark-in and dark-out" season. I ride off to work in the dark and ride home in the same. And while bicycling in the dark doesn’t really bother me (I’m lit up like a theater marquee as I ride), it’s the lack of sunlight available for any other activity that crushes my soul.
Heap upon this dearth of daylight the endless list of stuff I intended to do around the house this summer and my depression swells like road-killed o’possum on an August day. My solution for the past few seasons has been to add a headlamp and venture out to do "daytime" chores in the dark. The technology has its limitations, but I’ve recently proven my willingness to push those boundaries to the edge of idiocy.
Last year, I finished roofing my back porch in the dark. This year, wearing the same bicycle helmet fitted with a white spotlight on front and a red flashing beacon, anemically masked by a child’s sock behind, I felled a tree between two houses!
The cover of darkness was the only way I was going to be able to take care of the latter. The old crabapple tree that stood in the 30-foot gap between our house and the home of my next-door sister, Sandy, had been growing more ragged by the year for at least a decade. Still, there wasn’t a heart within the two households, mine included, that wanted to see it go. The upper reaches had housed many a bird’s nest over the years and the broad lower branches had been a favorite basking perch for our beloved cat, El Gato, who has now ascended to his "tenth life."
In a rare triumph of good sense over emotion I decided to fell the snag when no one was around to talk me out of it, and the first opportunity to do so came as Kristin was out for the evening with her sister, and Sandy and her husband were off to dinner. The planets aligned just past sunset, and I set about work feverishly placing spotlights, rigging guy lines and, finally, cutting a questionably calculated notch to guide the trunk into the narrow slot between things of great value on either side. I figured if the whole operation went south and I punched out a window, dragged down a power line, or ripped off an awning I could hide all my involvement and blame some phantom wind for the damage to both tree and home.
Fortunately, perhaps, miraculously , things went as planned and the tree was reduced to firewood, with all the moldering branches loaded into the pickup before anyone arrived home. No witnesses. No tears.
Who says nothing good ever happens after dark?
(Be sure to check out JohnLorsonSendHelp on Facebook to watch Kristin’s illustrations come to life in time-lapse!)