Thursday, April 14, 2016

Strange Thursday Morning Excitement

I stayed up way too late last night talking with friends, so my morning has been a prolonged struggle to stay awake.  I have made numerous self-promises that if I manage to get my work done, I can have a really special treat: an afternoon nap.  As I muddled my way through some entirely uninspired text, the quiet of my mountain home gave way to what at first I assumed to be an airplane cresting the mountain.
I continued my toiled conflict between obligation and fatigue only to realize that the noise did not subside as quickly as it would if a fixed wing aircraft was passing.  Also the temper and texture seemed to modulate in unusual patterns.  I continued working until the racket took on an odd, almost “lawn equipment” sound, and it sounded like it was on or very near my property.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I ventured downstairs and out on the upper deck to investigate.  Once I was outside where the sounds were not muffled by the walls of the house, it was obvious that the source of the disturbance was a rotary-wing aircraft, and one that was very near.  I surveyed the sky and the valley floor below wondering if one of my neighbors had been hurt and in need of a medi-vac. 
Suddenly the noise crescendoed and a helicopter rose from behind the near ridge across the valley.  I began to wonder if it was perhaps another search and rescue operation (we have hikers go missing as a regular part of life in the Smoky Mountains), but as I watched I realized that there was a long tether hanging from below the aircraft.  As it rose further, I saw that at the end of the tether was a 10 to 12 foot long, what can only be described as a hedge trimmer.
The helicopter, obviously piloted by a steady hand, was trimming away trees that were encroaching on the power lines that keep us “up landers” connected, warm, and fed.  I watched with fascination as this massive clipper swung just feet from live electric wires.  I kept thinking that a single gust of wind or an errant yaw of the controls would shear those power lines easier that it was lopping the limbs from the trees and what the potential consequences would be. 

The noise has gone now, as the aerial arborist has moved down the other side of the ridge tracing the utility corridor across another valley and rise.  I have often pondered the skill and ingenuity required to get lines to some of these home sites.  My own electric line is fed from a pole on a grade so steep that it would be nearly impossible to stand there and would require rappelling ropes to get to.  Yet someone dug the hole, erected a pole and strung wires on that ridge in a place too far from any road or flat land to enable even the longest truck rig to reach.

The next time the power goes out, I won’t swear quite so loud or long.  Those guys have a particularly complex job. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The brave little dog

For those of you who have dogs, you know that they are an important member of the family.  Like little children, they have diverse personalities with mood swings that range from one extreme to the other.  They can be affectionate or aloof, protective or frightened, remorseful or stubborn, smart or clueless, cunning or na├»ve, forgiving or vindictive, and at times, funny as all heck.
This spring, April is turning out to be more wintery than December was.  In deference to the weather, I have dutifully planted my herbs and started some early tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, but the arctic air keeps blowing and every night as the afternoon sun begins to wane, I have to carefully bring my tender plants into the house.
My four-legged son, Sebastian, a constant companion, great protector and watchdog, the first bold sentry to man (or dog) his post and sound the alarm if he even dreams someone is approaching the house, was quietly asleep in my bed this morning.  About 3:30 AM, I heard him stir, and I did my best to remain as still as possible cherishing the warm blankets and some much needed rest; it was below freezing and I really didn’t want to take him out.  My ruse didn’t work and soon he was up kicking his back feet like some Spanish fighting bull about to charge the matador; it is his signal that he needs to go potty.
I swung my legs out of bed and put on my warm slippers.  Cory, deducing what the early morning ruckus was all about, darted into the kitchen to pounce on the basement door; that is his signal that he needs to go potty.
I stumble into the predawn darkness wishing I had the luxury of emptying my own bladder before bracing the morning cold.  Down the stairs and opening the back door that leads into their run, I realize that Cory is the only one with me.  From the base of the steps I called Sebastian to follow, but the only answer I got was a weak, pathetic whimper.
I panicked thinking he had hurt himself or something.  I flew back upstairs and turned on all the lights.  Sebastian was sitting in the bedroom looking totally perplexed.  I invited him again to come “go potty.”  He approached the bedroom door, looked into the hall, and retreated stealthily back into the bedroom.
Apparently, the two planters that have been stored in the hallway every night for a week, today looked menacing beyond any canine fortitude my little boy could muster.  I scooped up my vicious watchdog and carried him to the basement steps. 

We all remember the nightmares of a monster hiding under the bed or the boogeyman in the closet, well, I guess to Sebastian, two yellow planters in the hall are just as terrifying.