It should have been more exciting. Groundbreaking day! Except, nothing actually got broken. The day was just these two guys hunching over the tailgate of a pickup, making marks on the first page of an unfurled blueprint, then pounding stakes:
This is Tyrone Simmons with his characteristic wry grin. Our builder, who’s going to be a member of the family for the next months. Along with Paul-the-Godsend, one of my favorite new people.
Here’s Dennis, Excavator Guy. He’s just recovered from a month-long stay in the hospital battling lung infection/blood infection — in a coma, not expected to survive. But, as he says, the good Lord told him he had another house to build. Which turns out to be ours. Gotta love that! He’s gruff, loud-spoken, been around too long to suffer fools, but about as sweet as you’d hope.
And here’s a selfie I took of Larry and me, supervising. This represents our contribution to the day’s activities. Lunch. I made a nice tuna salad, packed it along with a couple of tangerines and a bag of potato chips. Except I forgot to pack forks, so discovered that chips make fairly decent ad hoc silverware.
Larry had strapped on the weed-whacker harness to mow the perimeter of the orchard when Steve Smith, our conservation consultant arrived. He brought a draft of his vision of how we might proceed, giving us several paths we might follow, depending on our continued use of grazing. It’s a splendid document, with maps, photos, charts, and we’ve both skimmed it. Yeah. We need to get back to the first page and absorb, understand, decide. Perfect. This was by far the best reason for champagne that day.
No time for weed-whacking, then, but we did need to water the trees. And that’s when I noticed that something was amiss with the pie-cherry tree. Leaves curled, brown, and some blisters of a resin-like substance on the stems. Off to Shonnards with a clipping in a paper towel where we learned that we have lilac-leaf curl (have forgotten the technical name). Probably too late to save the tree, but we can spray a product — naturopathic and non-toxic — clip out the infected wood, and hope for the best.
Damn. First I whack one to death, and now we may lose another innocent tree to natural causes? I get mindful of the fact that we don’t live or die by our farming skills, but am beginning to feel like Calamity Jane. We sprayed, watered, and hoped for the best all the way home.
In the next weeks, when the ground really will get broken, we’ll be at 1.) the BBI, 2.) Pasadena for Charlie’s graduation, and 3.) Des Moines for Amber’s wedding. Our empty chairs will have to do the supervising, and the good Lord will have to water the trees.