For Emily, Thanks for the motivation.
The first day of fall passed a few days ago (a couple weeks at the time of this posting).
This summer was a rough one with its sheer number of sunny days, as our corner of this beautiful land didn’t receive any rain for over two months. We slowly watched the forest floor dry up until the undergrowth was all dead and as dry as tinder. Thunder showers moved through the area in July and August igniting hundreds of fires and eventually surrounding the Flathead Valley in smoke and flames. Stage two fire restrictions were implemented (No fires at all could be lit. Also, No machines could legally be run in the forests after 1pm). The Valley filled with smoke for many long weeks and we remained on alert for that forest fire that would threaten our home and livelihood. Herbivores, omnivores, and ungulates constantly searched their way into the greener pastures of the watered and tended yards and onto the beaches in a hunt for anything green and digestible.
Cedar Bay, that special place where I spend a majority of my working hours, is located in a rain-forest. It is typically wet enough that peat moss and small plants carpet the forest floor so thickly that at any given time during the warmer months a soft herbaceous bed is readily available to lay down upon. This mattress of living material is so welcoming during these short summer months as to provide a large and comfortable outdoor living space. This ‘outside’ has helped us to more easily find comfort in and accept our accommodations of the 800 square foot cabin we have called home for so many years. Though with teenagers, eventually this little cabin would prove inadequate and we would eventually have to move.
So the forest was getting dry. So dry and picked of greenery that today as I walk through these woods my feet crunch on brown debris, as dry and crunchy as peanut shells. Not a single green shoot or patch of moss can be found more than a couple feet from the stream or the lake. Movement through the trees is impossibly noisy and stalking game will be a challenge unless we were to get a significantly wet fall.
Mature trees are also showing the stress as they shed large branches and leaves or needles in an effort to reduce their own biological responsibilities. Smaller younger trees have given up in many instances, simply dying, spotting the otherwise emerald green woods with deep brown pockmarks.
Eventually, with the welcome arrival of fall has come a few rain storms, cooler mornings, and a little dew. Thankfully.
The job Carrie and I perform has no daily schedule. Most days we decide what is to be done the night before or the morning of. If it is rainy outside we frequently stay home to rest and recuperate from our very physical labors. This summer there were no rainy days, and therefore we took no days off (other than our annual trip to Silverwood Amusement Park, although said vacation can hardly be called relaxing, I did enjoy riding the benches and bar-stools. The hiking on the paved trails took its toll on my knees this year and I returned to work as fatigued or more-so than when we’d left. And so the summer raged on.
But now it is boat pulling season, and soon it will be leaf burning season, and then I will spend weeks sitting in the forest, listening, living, relaxing, enjoying the solitude and stillness of the woods and my body as I search for the venison to feed us through the next year. But currently, it’s boats, boats, boats!
I am thoroughly hooked on watercraft. Our business, Home Solutions llc was created in the car as we drove back from Florida having been conceived somewhere between Graceland and Denver, CO. It is now a booming high end home care business. Fashioned after yachting in an effort to provide the level of service desired by the higher end clientele to be found in the Swan and Flathead Valley. Now in our 16th year, I have a large number of boats in my care. So this, to me, is boating season.. to a degree. As I run these boats for the last time this season I will take them on short sea trials to reveal any mechanical issues that have developed over the season, and the boats are pulled after this final run and placed on trailers which I will then haul to local boat shops for service and winterizing.
The wood boats go to Somers where Steve tends to them with a learned hand and a mind to match as he has tended to wooden boats for the past 30+ years. The ski boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, sailboats, kayaks and canoes will all be washed and dried and placed in winter storage until spring. The outdoor furniture will be refinished as needed and secured in garage spaces and storage units. Houses are shut down, water shut off, thermostats set, hatches battened,.. some will remain this way until spring, others will be opened briefly for Thanksgiving or Christmas visits or for a random winter vacation. All the homes will receive frequent visits on a routine schedule to assure they are resting peacefully under the icy cold blanket of soon to be falling snow.
But today, it is boats. 70 degrees and sunny with fall colors decorating the shoreline beneath the energetic fall sunshine. I love my work, and I can’t wait to get back to it daily. To me, there are not enough hours in the day as the duties before me fill me up and satisfy me.
With that, I am off to the beach on this most beautiful of fall days to pull a couple more watercraft.. perhaps I’ll take the long way to the boat ramp today.