Jun 29, 2024

Fireballs


I did that

It's far enough in the past that I can see myself there, at my cabin out in the yard, wrapping myself up in the experience of the changing seasons. 
The wind's cold on my face, but I won't go inside until I can feel the chill deep within my cheeks. 
Stoke the fire, make hot chocolate, snuggle with my cat, and 
watch the birds from the bed beside the window. 
Dark-eyed Juncos snacking on Salal berries, 
Spotted Towhees kicking up dry leaves and
Rufous Hummingbirds fighting over a flower on the Oregon grape. 

My yard's my sanctuary. 
The cedars and firs protect me, 
hold me, 
and help me heal. 
Because 
there are no
arms 
to fall 
into. 

My first autumn on the island was spent clearing my land by hand – the Back 40. I planned to build some raised vegetable beds and live off the land as much as possible. I wasn't sure exactly how to make those beds or where I'd get the soil, but that's what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, the only yard tools I had were a rotting pick axe I found in the bushes and a metal lawn rake left by the previous owners. 

The Back 40 – was about half an acre filled with: 
rocks 
sandy soil 
4 ft tall Bracken ferns 
Salal 
Huckleberry 
Blackberry 
Dandelion and 
Garter snakes 

There were a lot of rocks on my property: giant slabs of conglomerate, perfectly round stones, and large boulders. 

I'd choose the spot I'd work on that day by the rock I tripped over. 
Trip 
Curse 
Kick 
Dig 

I'd spend the day digging the rocks out. 
First, I'd kick them to see what I was dealing with, 
and then I'd kick them some more because it felt good. 
The work - physically draining but emotionally satisfying. 

Once I could see more of the rock, I'd try to pull it out with my stinky work glove-clad hands. If that didn't work, I'd use the head of the pick axe – whose handle broke off the first time I used it. 

Sometimes, the rocks were hidden by thick Salal bushes. In which case, once the snakes vacated, I'd start cutting the Salal back to grab hold of its roots and pull it out while briefly considering business opportunities in Salal distribution. 

My buddy Dave warned me not to pull the Salal out. 
Stace, you can't win against Salal. 
I didn't listen. No matter how many times I failed. 
Salal has a deep and wide root system. 
And most of the time, I'd end up in a tug of war and on my ass. 
Root system still intact. 
Clearing the rocks became an obsessive challenge. 

When the day's battle with the Salal and the rocks came to an end, I'd throw the rocks under the tallest tree on my property—the Douglas fir, which stood over 100 feet tall and whose top twinkled like a star on a Christmas tree when the setting sun caught it just right. 

Sometimes, I'd pretend I was a shot putter; other times, I was back on the softball field, and even more times, I was hurling balls of fire. 

Overhand 
Underhand 
Hurl 

I threw the rocks with my eyes closed. 
Occasionally, over my shoulder for luck. 
With each rock I threw, I released a stuck memory. 
The flat clap of the rock hitting another signified success. 
I never saw where they'd land, and the thick Salal surrounding the tree hid the pile. I'd consider future inhabitants of the land pondering the meaning of all the rocks piled under the tree. 
Is something buried there? 
Yes.

The Back 40 after I cleared it and put in the beds and firepit

The rocks are under the fir tree to the right.

The Wind